'Bagheera, is that you?' ask Twitterati as photos of black panther spotted in Karnataka go viral

Updated: Jul 07, 2020, 19:10 IST | mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai

Amid the social media frenzy, a forest range officer in Karnataka's Nagarhole Tiger Reserve also spotted a black panther on Monday

This picture has been used for representational purposes. Picture/AFP
This picture has been used for representational purposes. Picture/AFP

Pictures of a rare black panther have taken social media by storm. The photos of the big cat was captured in Kabini in Mysuru and were shared on a Twitter page called ‘Earth’.

A forest range officer in Karnataka’s Nagarhole Tiger Reserve also spotted a black panther on Monday. The big cat seemed to be four to five years old but gender could not be determined. It was spotted on a large moss-laden tree branch by the forest range officer.

However, it is not clear if the big cat spotted in the viral pictures and the one spotted by the forest range officer is the same. "I am not sure of the photographs of the black panther in the viral social media posts and the one spotted on Monday are one and the same," deputy conservator of forests, D. Mahesh Kumar, told IANS.

The official also confirmed that the viral pictures were captured by one Shaaz Jung, who often visits the tiger reserve.

However, the viral pictures of the black panther have thrown Twitter into a frenzy. Users likened the animal to Bagheera, a character from The Jungle Book. In the fictional tale by Rudyard Kipling, Bagheera, a black panther, is the one who brings Mowgli, the protagonist, into the jungle as an infant and trains him as he grows up in the forest. The tale has also been adapted into films and animated series.

Here’s how the Twitterati reacted to pictures:

Some Twitter users also made a reference to Marvel Comics' Black Panther.

Meanwhile, Mahesh Kumar added that a black panther is nothing but a leopard with excessive melanin on its coat and gets all the attention because of the publicity people give it. "It gets speciality only because of the people who follow it and give publicity to that animal. They have some kind of special value attached to it. Otherwise, it is just like any other animal, only thing is it is melanistic," he said.

Melanin is the pigment that gives black colouration to biological tissues such as skin, feathers, or hair in animals as well as humans. Kumar said the rosette spots can be identified on a black panther's coat as well on a careful and closer look. "It is nothing but a leopard species, but because of high melanin content in the body, it expresses that black colour. It is not a different species. Some people have a doubt that it is a different species altogether," he said.

(With inputs from IANS)

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