Kaziranga (Assam): A severely injured rare black panther (Panthera pardus) is being treated at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) near Kaziranga National Park in the northeastern Indian state of Assam.
“The animal’s condition is stable but complete recovery will take time… at least a month,” says Dr Phulmoni Gogoi, IFAW-WTI (International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust of India) veterinarian who has been attending to the panther. “It had a number of injuries on its legs, forehead and paws. Some injuries seem to have been inflicted during infighting as there are several puncture marks. However, it seems to have been attacked by humans too.”
The panther – an adult male – was captured in Kehang Tea Estate near Borjan Reserve Forest, Upper Assam on January 3, reportedly after three tea garden labourers were attacked. The next day, it was admitted to the CWRC – a joint venture of the Assam Forest Department and IFAW-WTI.
Black panther is a rare melanistic form of the common leopard. Since the inauguration of CWRC in 2002, the IFAW-WTI rescue team in Assam has attended to more than 50 common leopards, of which only two are black panthers. The first case was attended to by Dr Abhijit Bhawal, veterinarian, Mobile Veterinary Services Upper Assam, on December 28, 2009.
“This too was a case of conflict with humans. The panther was a sub-adult female, and had attacked a girl. It was captured by workers in Ethalwood Tea Estate near Jokai Reserve Forest. It was eventually sent to the Assam State Zoo,” said Dr Bhawal.
Apart from these cases, two sightings have been reported by IFAW-WTI veterinarians. Dr Bhawal reported sighting a female leopard with two cubs, one of which was black, near Dibrugarh in August last year. Dr Prasanta Boro, Assistant Manager, reported the first black panther sighting in Dhola near Dibru Saikhowa National Park in 2007, during his tenure as the MVS Upper Assam Veterinarian. The animal was cornered on a tree top as people gathered below to get a glimpse. Dr Boro informed the Forest Department officials who cordoned the area to provide a safe passage to the animal.