A forest guide has shot photos of two black panthers, the melanistic colour variant of the leopard, in the Buxa Tiger Reserve forest in Alipurduar district on 12 January. The two animals belonging to the endangered species of wildlife was found at Jayanti area the East Division of the Reserve, it is learnt.

Lekhu Mahato had been taking some tourists around the forest areas when they spotted the rare species of the wild animal that day, sources said. “Yes, we know that the two black panthers were clicked by one of our tourist guides in Jayanti area. We have old records and photographs of the black panther’s existence in the Buxa Tiger Reserve.

It is very nice to see two black panthers together in the forest. We have earlier got photos of the clouded leopard in the forest a number of times,” said the Field Director of the Reserve forest, Subhankar Sengupta. Good news for animal lovers also came in from the Jaldapara National Park in Alipurduar, where trap cameras have clicked the rare hispid hare, another endangered animal which is in the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It is learnt that the Hare was recorded earlier in the Jaldapara National Park, but that it was missing since 1998. “This is the first photograph of this rare species of animal that has been clicked in the National Park after that,” sources said.The Park authorities now also hope to have such photos of another rare species of bird, Bengal florican, foresters said.

“Hispid Hare was clicked by the rap cameras in the National Park on 9 June in 2019. We hope we will get the photographs of the rare Bengal Florican also soon, as these two live in the same habitat,” said the DFO of the Jaldapara Wildlife Divison, Kumar Vimal. “We are able to control fire in the National Park and the previous year was a fire-free year for the Jaldapara National Park. We are getting the results of that. Fire harms such small animals and birds,” Mr Vimal added.