Rare sloth bear sighting recorded in Melghat

Updated: Apr 18, 2020, 07:37 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Camera traps photograph instance of a rare white coat bear in Melghat Tiger Reserve

The leucistic sloth bear in MTR
The leucistic sloth bear in MTR

The lockdown on all human activity across the country meant to curb the COVID-19 spread has brought several rare animals out of their hidings. One such finding happened at the Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) after one of the camera traps photographed a leucistic sloth bear.

The find was made during the Phase IV Camera Trapping exercise for the project titled 'Long-term Monitoring of Tiger bearing areas of Vidarbha.' According to the Maharashtra Forest Department officials, this is the first record of the leucistic sloth bear from MTR in Maharashtra.

Leucism is a recessive condition in which there is a partial loss of pigmentation in an animal causing white, pale or patchy colouration of the skin, hair, feathers or scales; but not the eyes.

Some famous examples of Leucism in wildlife are the White Tigers of Rewa (MP), White Lions of South Africa and White Giraffe of Kenya.

In India, there has been a record of a sloth bear with a rusty-brown coat from forests of Dahod, Gujarat in 2016. Such individuals have a lower chance of survival as their colour makes them more susceptible to predation.

"The leucistic Sloth Bear recorded in Melghat appears to be an adult female and has been photographed in a camera trap with another individual (possibly a male) of the normal black coat. Melghat, with its rugged mountainous terrain and dense wilderness, supports a thriving population of sloth bears. It constitutes a compact patch of dense forest cover, having immense value and potential for nature interpretation and biodiversity conservation. Melghat Tiger Reserve is a 'Green Oasis' in the northern part of Maharashtra and has a great significance from the point of view of wildlife conservation," Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Vishal Mali from MTR said.

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