A rare black leopard named Bagheera is in the spotlight after a photographer captured her on film in India. While these big cats are well-known in popular culture, they are extraordinarily rare due to poachers and habitat loss.
The melanistic leopard has been dubbed Bagheera after the Jungle Book character and was seen in a park that calls itself the “Land of the Mowgli,” the Pench National Park. It’s the go-to name whenever these cats appear, it seems. In 2020, another black leopard, compared to Bagheera, went viral in the same park after a tourist caught the cat on video.
Photographer Haritri Goswami captured this “Bagheera,” a stunning young female, as she climbed a tree in August.
“A beautiful shadow 🖤.”
According to the Daily Mail, some scientists suggest the rare fur coloration could be an evolutionary response as the cats hunt at night. Or perhaps, to avoid the constant threat from poachers? They point to sightings of black leopards in Africa and Asia and black tigers in India’s Nandankanan National Park. We previously shared a story about a rare black leopard in Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya. It was the first time one was seen in over a century.
Video by Haritri Goswami:
Photographer Soumen Bajpayee caught an image of one of the melanistic tigers on film in 2020.
More Black Leopard Sightings
Two and a half years ago, photographer Anurag Gawande captured a melanistic leopard on film in the Tadoba Andhari National Park, now home to 43 tigers. He was only 30 feet from the big cat when the photographer’s safari group happened upon the leopard as it hunted a deer.
Gawande called it a “dream come true moment” and “the most iconic moment” of his life. It was the only known black leopard in the park. This particular black leopard, with black spots easily visible against his coat, is even rarer. While certainly gorgeous, these big cats attract despicable poachers. Sightings of the rare cats also excite authorities, who hope it will boost tourism in the area.
The photos of the leopard against the red clay road are striking.
Video by Technorites:
In September 2022, Gawande, who leads safari tours in India, was back in the media after he caught a female black leopard on film, this time in Pench National Park. He told PetaPixel that he waited for nine hours to get the pictures after spotting her from far away.
It’s sad to know these big cats, as beautiful as they are, may not be here much longer, not even for pictures. We have a choice to preserve wildlife and their habitats or remember them only as characters from books, beautiful photos, a video, or worse, a useless pelt. Let’s hope people worldwide realize it’s critical to cherish and protect nature and all wildlife like these magical leopards.