Chhattisgarh forest department officials have confirmed the presence of a black panther at the Udanti-Sitanadi tiger reserve in Gariyaband district. Forest officials believe that this is the first time footage of the rare species has been captured in central India.
Visuals of the black panther were obtained following the installation of over 200 cameras across the tiger reserve for over 80 days from December 2016 to April 2017. Forest officials took the step after a few guards reportedly caught sight of the animal while on duty.
The Udanti-Sitanadi tiger reserve is spread across 1,842.54 square kilometres.
Although a forest officer reportedly spotted a black panther in the area 24 years ago, no scientific records were found to buttress his claim. Another officer glimpsed a female black panther and two cubs in the Achanakmaar jungles three years ago, but the authorities were unable to gather any scientific evidence in this regard either.
Black panthers were earlier said to inhabit the Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary and Sharavathi Wildlife Sanctuary.