Published On : Thu, Apr 16th, 2020

Leucistic Sloth Bear recorded in Melghat Tiger Reserve

Nagpur: In the midst of nationwide lockdown, a rare leucistic Sloth Bear (Meliursus ursinus) has been recorded in Sipna Wildlife Division of Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra. The find was made during the Phase IV Camera Trapping exercise for the project titled ‘Long-term Monitoring of Tiger bearing areas of Vidarbha, Maharashtra’ conducted in a joint venture by Wildlife Institute of India and Maharashtra Forest Department.

Leucism is a recessive condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal causing white, pale or patchy coloration 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. These animals are sometimes worshipped as sacred. 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 color 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 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 bio-diversity conservation. Melghat Tiger Reserve is a “Green Oasis” in the northern part of the Maharashtra and has a great significance from the point of view of wildlife conservation.