Sunday, June 14, 2009

India: Black leopard spotted after 67 years in Sindhudurg

Black leopard spotted after 67 years
Ashwin Aghor - DNASunday, June 14, 2009 2:41 IST Email

Mumbai: Amid reports that habitat destruction is causing the extinction of various species, wildlife enthusiasts have a reason to rejoice. Two trekkers claimed to have seen a black leopard in Sindhudurg district -- for the first time since 1942.

Kolhapur-residents Sachin Kondekar and Abhijit Yadav had gone to Manohar Mansantosh, the twin forts between Amboli and Padgaon on June 3. "At 7.45am, while following a regular trail, we noticed the movement of a strange animal in the hills nearby," said Kondekar, "A closer look with binoculars revealed a black leopard."

Regular trekkers, Yadav and Kondekar have often encountered animals such as bison and antelopes. "This time we were lucky to see a black leopard, which was last seen 67 years back  in the forests of Radhanagri Dajipur in 1942," Kondekar said.

Conservator of forests (wildlife), Kolhapur MK Rao confirmed the report. "There were reports of black leopard sightings around Amboli and Padgaon but till date we have had no evidence," said Rao, "The photographs taken have been from far, but the characteristics of the animal in the photo indicate that it is a black leopard."

Environmentalist Sunjoy Monga says there are records of black leopards in the forests of Dandeli on the Karnataka-Maharashtra border. "It is found in high density forests of Western ghats and North India," Monga said. Environmental designer Vibhas Amonkar, too, had seen a black leopard near Mahabaleshwar in 2002. "It was during one of my trips to Mahabaleshwar that I encountered the black leopard," Amonkar said.

http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report_black-leopard-spotted-after-67-years_1264716

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