Did you know that 14 per cent of leopards in Kali Tiger Reserve are melanistic in nature?
Melanistic or black leopards are black mutated animals of the same species. Their pitch dark colour, cat eyes and elusive nature makes the sightings prized ones.
This finding is a result of an interesting study conducted by the Forest Department and Wildlife Conservation Society (India) to estimate the population of various mammals in Kali Tiger Reserve.
The reserve is the first forest patch where black leopards were sighted. Besides Kali Tiger Reserve, the black leopards are seen in Bandipur, Nagarhole and Bhadra (rarely).
The report ‘Monitoring Tigers and Associated Species’ has a compilation of photographs taken by camera traps set up in the reserve in the last one year. Another important finding of the study is that officials have been able to pinpoint the tiger population in the reserve for the first time ever.
Though the reserve has one of the largest areas for tiger reserves (spreading over 1,345 sq km), there are very few tigers here. During the estimation study, officials found only 12 tigers roaming the forest. However, since few areas of the reserve are yet to be covered, foresters estimate that there are 18 tigers.
K Sreenivasulu, Director of Kali Tiger Reserve told Express, “We have got 120 to 130 images of tigers. We have used 100 camera traps that are placed in areas that are frequented by big cats. In the second phase, we are planning to add 100 more cameras in the forest.”
The officer added that Kali Reserve has a great future as far as tiger population is concerned.
“We have taken up several measures in wildlife protection which will go a long way to ensure a protected habitat for tigers.
“We are working towards relocating the people who are living in small hamlets inside the forests. More numbers of anti-poaching camps are being established in all the six wildlife ranges of Kali Reserve to check poaching and illegal entry into the restricted tiger area,” Sreenivasulu, who is also the Chief Conservator of Forests, said.
“The camera trapping has also helped us keep poachers at bay. At least two poachers have been jailed and several were quizzed after they were photographed by the camera traps,” the officer said.
The report was also able to throw light on elephants. Thanks to the pictures of elephants, officials now have details of all the elephant herds in the forest. The park has 64 resident elephants.
There were some more interesting photographs. Some of the images showed pangolins and civets. One photograph captured a young pangolin riding its mother’s back. Pangolins carry their babies for three months.
The estimation report is expected to be released soon by Forest Minister Ramanath Rai in Bengaluru.
Rainfall ranging from 800 mm to 5,000 mm annually and a vast presence of flora and fauna make Kali Tiger Reserve a unique wildlife area in Karnataka. The Kali River flows through the reserve and is the lifeline of the ecosystem and hence the name. The reserve It covers parts of Haliyal, Karwar and Joida taluks.