Instagram post by @the_bamboo_forest The Bamboo Forest Safari Lodge

#conservationthroughconversation Lately the sightings of a black panther in the Kolsa zone of Tadoba has experts baffled and confused. But before we delve into the explanation, We must understand the occurrence of Melanism (a development of the dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin or its appendages and is the opposite of albinism) in these felines.
Melanism in the leopard (Panthera pardus) is conferred by a recessive allele. Close examination of the color of these black cats will show that the typical markings are still present, but are hidden by the excess black pigment melanin, giving an effect similar to that of printed silk. This is called "ghost striping". Melanistic and non-melanistic animals can be littermates. It is thought that melanism may confer a selective advantage under certain conditions since it is more common in regions of dense forest, where light levels are lower.

Keeping the above in mind, the first question that comes to mind is that what is a melanistic gene that is normally associated with the dense canopies of the rainforests of western ghats and south India doing in the dry deciduous forests of Central India ?
Theories suggest that the forest officials of western ghats used Kolsa (a protected forest and not part of the Tiger Reserve in the Olden days) as a dumping ground for displacing problem animals from the western ghats and in doing so perpetrated the melanistic gene in the central Indian forests as well. While this is just a theory, It does explain the presence of bagheera in areas they’re not historically or genetically from.
While survival rate of such animals should technically be extremely low, The fate of this particular individual is yet to be seen.
We would like to thank @swethakumarbobbili for providing us this much needed pictorial proof of the presence of the black panther. We at The Bamboo Forest Safari Lodge ,have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you regularly as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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