Black Leopards

Earlier this month, Mongabay published an interview with Laurie Hedges and Gopalasamy Reuben Clement (a carnivore researcher with Rimba and  the co-founder of Rimba respectively) about black leopards.

I had not heard of black leopards although I was aware of black panthers.  “Black panther” is not a species of cat but a term which covers a number of different species of the felid genus Panthera.  Black panthers are simply individual panthers which have a genotype causing a uniformly black colouration on their coats.  13 species of wild felids have been documented with black forms but, apart from the difference in colouration, they are still the same species as their patterned counterparts.  In the infrared image below, for example, the leopard’s “rosette” spot patterns are clear.

This infrared camera trap image shows the "rosette" spot patterns on a black leopard. Photo courtesy of Rimba.

This infrared camera trap image shows the “rosette” spot patterns on a black leopard. Photo courtesy of Rimba.

Black panthers are rare, however, recent studies have shown that in one area of the world, the Malay Peninsula, black leopards are the dominant form of leopard.  It is not known why black leopards make up nearly all the Malay Peninsula’s leopard population but it may be a combination of natural selection and genetics within the local population straying over time toward black individuals.

The above is just an overview of the interview and the web page contains more images and videos of black leopards.

Advertisements

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s