Rare pink leopard sighted in India for the first time

Pink leopard sighted in Rajasthan (pix Times of India)
Pink leopard sighted in Rajasthan (pix Times of India)

In a first in India, the rare ‘pink’ leopard was recently sighted in Ranakpur area, located in the Aravalli hills of south Rajasthan. Earlier sightings of the pink leopard were reported in South Africa in 2012 and 2019.

Locals in Ranakpur and Kumbhalgarh claimed to have occasionally spotted the big cat — having a strawberry-coloured coat — in various regions because of the vast stretch of forest area the pink leopard has been venturing into, Rajsamand DCF Fateh Singh Rathore said. It was only recently that photographers got a chance to capture the female leopard on camera. “As conservator of wildlife, we aim to protect the leopard by restricting human invasion into its territory,” Rathore added. The Kumbhalgarh forest area spans over 600sqkm.

Indian leopards normally have tawny coats with black spots.  The pink leopard, however, has reddish-brown skin and distinctly different spots as compared to common leopard. The strawberry-coloured coat of the pink leopard is caused by erythrism — a genetic condition that either causes an overproduction of red pigments or underproduction of dark pigments — retired forest officer Dr Satish Sharma said.

Udaipur-based wildlife conservator and photographer Hitesh Motwani claimed to have captured photographs of the rare pink leopard after a four day search. Motwani said the female leopard is aged around five to six.

The spotting of the pink leopard in the region is a matter of pride as well as concern, said wildlife conservationist and WCCB member Anil Rodgers.

Pink-coloured leopard was first captured on camera in South Africa in 2019. According to the Daily Mail, the leopard with strawberry pelt was snapped by a motion-triggered camera pinned to a tree in Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve in South Africa. Reserve owner Alan Watson, 45, and his wife Lynsey, 41 caught the world’s rarest leopard chomping on a dead giraffe, a moment never caught before on camera.

Prior to this the stunning big cat also called the Golden Leopard – was only officially discovered for the first time in 2012, in a different location, close to the Botswana border. (Times of India – 10 November 2021)