Himansu Shekhar Rout

A melanistic leopard was spotted in a forest in Odisha recently. The fact came to the fore after a picture of the leopard was captured in the trap camera during the ongoing tiger census in the state. The Principal Chief Conservators of Forests (PCCF) Susanta Nanda shared the pictures of the big cat on his X handle on Wednesday. 

“Ongoing camera trap tiger census in Odisha is throwing up some exciting & unexpected presence of wild fauna in our state,” the post read. 

Though the PCCF did not specify the name of the forest where the animal was found, it was tipped to be spotted in a forest in the central part of Odisha. 

However, the cheering news about the presence of the melanistic leopard stands in contrast with disturbing reports about the poaching of the animal in Nayagarh and other parts. On November 20, the Special Task Force of the Odisha Police Crime Branch busted a racket that was involved in the illegal dealing and smuggling of leopard skins in Nayagarh.

The STF seized skins of two leopards which were suspected to have been poached for smuggling of hides. The marks of gunshots were found on the skins covering the heads of the two animals. Besides, the STF has seized several leopard skins in the same district in the past. 

Also Read: STF busts racket dealing with leopard skins, one held in Odisha’s Nayagarh 

However, wildlife lovers received good news a few days back about a Royal Bengal Tiger (RBT) which was spotted roaming in Odisha and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, after travelling nearly 750 km from Maharashtra to reach the Gajapati district. 

The PCCF said, “When we captured the tiger in our cameras in Odisha, we sent the pictures of the stripes to the Wildlife Institute of India for identification. They identified the tiger as the one that was camera trapped at Brahmapuri forest division under Maharashtra’s Chandrapur in 2021. Though the feline has traversed 750km now, it has crossed much more distance before, as suggested by its pictures.”