A rare melanistic leopard, popularly called black leopard, was spotted in the Navegaon block of the Navegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR) in the Gondia district of Maharashtra.
- Earlier this year, the rare black leopard has been cited at Tadoba National Park, in the Chandrapur district.
- Sightings of the black leopard were earlier reported in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve and the Pench Tiger Reserve in the state of Maharashtra.
- The high amount of pigmentation – melanin, causes the animal to appear black.
- The Black coat coloration is attributed to the expression of recessive alleles in leopards and dominant alleles in jaguars
- They are found in the forests of the Western Ghats and north-east India and are black in colour due to the presence of excess melanin in their bodies.
- The colour of their fur is a mixture of blue, black, grey and purple.
- It is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- It is protected in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
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About Navegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve
- Navegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve was notified as 46th tiger reserve of India in 2013 and the 5th tiger reserve of Maharashtra.
- Navegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve is situated in Gondia and Bhandara districts of Maharashtra.
- It is comprised of notified area of Nawegaon National Park, Nawegaon Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary, New Nagzira Wildlife Sanctuary and Koka Wildlife Sanctuary.
- It has connectivity with major tiger reserves in central India like Kanha and Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra and Indravati Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh.
- The major forest type found in NNTR is Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest.
- Navegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve is an important conservation unit in Central India in general and Vidarbha in particular.
- Navegaon Nagzira Tiger Reserve has connectivity with the major tiger reserves in Central India like Kanha and Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, Pench & Tadoba-Andhari TR in Maharashtra, Indravati tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh and indirectly with the Kawal & Nagarjunsagar Tiger Reserve in Telangana & Andhra Pradesh and Achanakmar TR in Chhattisgarh. It is also connected to important tiger bearing areas like Umred-Karhandala sanctuary and Bramhapuri division.