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Extremely rare BLACK leopard dubbed ‘Bagheera’ with darkened fur is spotted in India

Extremely rare BLACK leopard dubbed ‘Bagheera’ with darkened fur around its spots from genetic quirk is spotted in India’s ‘Land of Mowgli’ national park

  • The big cat was spotted in the Pench National Park in Bhopal, central India
  • It was last spotted in November 2020 in the ‘Land of Mowgli’ park
  • The leopard’s black colour is the result of melanism, the opposite of albinism 

An extremely rare fully black leopard has been spotted in India after a two-year absence.

The big cat, dubbed Bagheera after the Jungle Book character, was seen in the forests of Bhopal, in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The Pench National Park is also affectionately known as the Land of Mowgli after the Rudyard Kipling character, due to the incredible variety of animals living among the jungle, including a tiger reserve.

An extremely rare fully black leopard has been spotted in India after a two-year absence

The big cat, dubbed Bagheera after the Jungle Book character, was seen in the forests of Bhopal

The big cat, dubbed Bagheera after the Jungle Book character, was seen in the forests of Bhopal

The park is also affectionately known as the Land of Mowgli after the Rudyard Kipling character

The park is also affectionately known as the Land of Mowgli after the Rudyard Kipling character

It claims to be the setting for the classic book and film although this is disputed, and Kipling never visited the area. 

The animal was last spotted in November 2020 and park officials believe it is the same leopard that was seen before.

Footage taken of its most recent sighting shows the leopard darting across a track and sitting in a tree.

It is also seen walking alongside a leopard with regular patterns and colouring.  

In the recent sighting, the big cat was spotted walking alongside a leopard with regular patterns and colouring

In the recent sighting, the big cat was spotted walking alongside a leopard with regular patterns and colouring

The animal was last spotted in November 2020 but has reappeared in the Pench National Park

The animal was last spotted in November 2020 but has reappeared in the Pench National Park

Its genetic variation, the opposite of albinism, results in an excess of dark pigmentation

Its genetic variation, the opposite of albinism, results in an excess of dark pigmentation

WHAT IS A BLACK LEOPARD (AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM A PANTHER)?

There is no difference between a black leopard and a black panther.

The black leopard could also be referred to as a black panther, as this is not a species but an umbrella term that simply refers to any big cat that has a black coat. Black panthers in the Americas would be black jaguars. 

Dr Nicholas Pilford said: ‘Melanism is a recessive trait in leopards, so both parents have to be carrying the gene in order for it to be expressed. 

‘Genetic research indicates melanism comes from a mutation in a gene that causes a loss of the normal function and colouration. However, although they appear solid black during the day, black panthers still have the iconic leopard rosette patterns in their coats.’

The leopard’s black colour is the result of melanism. 

This genetic variation, the opposite of albinism, results in an excess of dark pigmentation.

Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests where their dark colouration is thought to help them hide in the shadows.

Most recorded sightings of black leopards have therefore been in the forests of Asia, and very rarely in Africa.

The black leopard can also be referred to as a black panther because this is an umbrella term that simply refers to any big cat that has a black coat.

Earlier this year, two extremely rare ‘black’ tigers were captured strolling around the Nandankanan National Park in eastern India.

The stunning creatures have only been seen in the Odisha state and experts have in the past couple of years claimed there were as few as seven to eight of them left in the region.

Black tigers get their distinctive appearance due genetic mutations called pseudo-melanism where their dark stripe pattern fuses together on light orange-golden fur, often making their pelt look entirely dark. 

Such tigers were rare even when the population of wild cats were plentiful in the country centuries ago. 

Most recorded sightings of black leopards have therefore been in the forests of Asia, and very rarely in Africa

Most recorded sightings of black leopards have therefore been in the forests of Asia, and very rarely in Africa

The black leopard can also be referred to as a black panther because this is an umbrella term that simply refers to any big cat that has a black coat

The black leopard can also be referred to as a black panther because this is an umbrella term that simply refers to any big cat that has a black coat

Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests where their dark colouration is thought to help them hide in the shadows

Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests where their dark colouration is thought to help them hide in the shadows

A black tiger also spotted by a stunned animal lover in Odisha in late 2020, and snapped by amateur photographer Soumen Bajpayee.

Sightings of black tigers have been pictured only in Similipal in Odisha since 2007, but they have been observed there from 1993.

Financial Express reports alleged sightings of fully black tigers have been made as far back as 1773 when artist James Forbes painted one in Kerala.

Similar rumours were made in Myanmar in 1913 and 1950s China.  

Extremely rare 'black' tigers were captured strolling around the Nandankanan National Park in eastern India. The stunning creatures have only been seen in the Odisha state

Extremely rare ‘black’ tigers were captured strolling around the Nandankanan National Park in eastern India. The stunning creatures have only been seen in the Odisha state

Black tigers get their distinctive appearance due genetic mutations called pseudo-melanism where their dark stripe pattern fuses together on light orange-golden fur giving a dark black look

Black tigers get their distinctive appearance due genetic mutations called pseudo-melanism where their dark stripe pattern fuses together on light orange-golden fur giving a dark black look

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