Black Leopard

A black panther is the melanistic colour variant of any Panthera species. Black panthers in Asia and Africa are leopards (P. pardus), and those in the Americas are jaguars (P. onca). Melanism in the jaguar is conferred by a dominant allele, and in the leopard (Panthera pardus) by a recessive allele. Close examination of the colour of these black cats will show that the typical markings are still present, but are hidden by the excess black pigment melanin, giving an effect similar to that of printed silk. This is called “ghost striping.” Melanistic and non-melanistic animals can be littermates. It is thought that melanism may confer a selective advantage under certain conditions since it is more common in regions of dense forest, where light levels are lower. Frequency of melanism appears to be approximately 11% over the species range. Black leopards are common in the equatorial rainforest of the Malay Peninsula and the tropical rainforest on the slopes of some African mountains such as Mount Kenya, in Java, and are reported from densely forested areas in southwestern China, Myanmar, Assam and Nepal, from Travancore and some parts of southern India where they may be more numerous than spotted leopards. In Africa, dark leopards have been reported in the Atlas Mountains, in Kenya’s Aberdare Mountains and in Ethiopia. Credit: Wikipedia.