Black Panther is a name given to very dark, big cats, especially leopards and jaguars; black panthers are a melanistic colour variant of the leopard (Panthera pardus) and the jaguar (Panthera onca). There have been confirmed sightings of the black panther in Sub-Sahara Africa, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Arab Peninsular Malaysia and Java, while black jaguars have been sighted recently in Brasil, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Paraguay. They became extinct in North America in the 1940’s.
The Appearance of the Black Panther
Black Panther are rare types of Leopards and Jaguars with large skulls, strong jaws, excess black pigments with distinct rosettes. Their melanism, which is the opposite of albinism, is a recessive allele (an allele is 1 or 2 more versions of a gene ). 2 alleles in the leopard causes blackness and the black jaguar has a dominant allele. However, this does not increase the frequency of ‘black panther’ jaguars. In simpler terms, melanism results from a gene that causes a surplus of pigment in the skin or hair of the animals so that it appears black. Leap to the bottom of this article to paw some videos of this dusky creature.
The Black Panther, like the leopard, has shiny lime green eyes with great night vision. Its forefeet are usually larger than its hind feet and this big cat has sharp, curved claws located on all its digits. As with other cats, it has five digits on the forefeet and four on the hind paws. A black panther has sharp canine teeth for hunting and devouring prey.
With all, Leopards, the black panther is large with an average weight of 18-43kg and head and body length of about 950-1270mm. It’s long and densely haired tail is 640-850mm long. They can grow up to seven feet long.
Nine leopard subspecies range from Africa to eastern Russia. However, only 11 per cent of leopards alive today are thought to be melanistic (black panthers).
Black Panther Sightings in The Wild
The Black Panther of Panthera pardus species have been recently spotted in Sub-Sahara Africa, Arab peninsular, and several Southeast Asian countries including press reports of black leopards in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia and Java.
These black cats can thrive in almost any type of habitat, including deserts, woodlands, savannas, forests, rainforests, edges of mangroves, mountainous regions and coastal scrub lands. They are the most adaptable of the big cats but the best way to film them is from automated camera traps.
A Black panther Spotted in India in 2020
In 2020 a ‘majestic’ black panther was sighted in Karnataka’s Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, India. Rangers said:
“It was the only black panther living in the forest and they are rarely seen in India. This is why they are called “the ghosts of the forest”.Unnamed Park Ranger
A Black panther Spotted in Thailand in 2020
Camera traps in Khlong Lan National Park in Thailand’s northwestern Kamphaeng Phet province recorded a black panther roaming through forest with a leopard by its side. No sightings had been made for several years prior to this footage.
Black Panther – The Jaguar
Black jaguars (Panthera Onca) species are native to South American countries; black jaguars have been observed in rainforests, Panatanal, Brasil, Paraná River in Paraguay, Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico, Alberto Manuel Brenes Biological Reserve in Costa Rica, Barbilla National Park, in the Cordillera de Talamanca and Mamoni River Valley mountains in eastern Panama.
Fantastic Facts About the Black Panther
- A black panther can jump up to three metres vertically.
- ‘Jaguar’ is an old Indian word meaning ‘killer which overcomes its prey in a single bound.’
- In 1788, Jean-Claude Delamétherie provided the first glimpse of a black leopard to Europeans – brought from Bengal and kept in the Tower of London.
- The melanism in black panthers provides additional camouflage in their habitats, giving the predator an advantage in hunting.
- A black panther could leap more than 15 feet and can run 35 miles per hour for a short distance.
- Black panther cubs weigh just 4 – 8 ounces – that’s less than a two-month-old house cat.
- Myth in Africa has it that black cats bring bad luck so, hunters don’t hunt black Panthers or kill them when they encounter them in the wild.
- Black Panthers are solitary. Therefore they spend most of their time alone. Each of them has its territory.
- They are skilled climbers like other wild cats and often rest on the tree branches during the day. They are great hunters, too, and often drag their prey up into the tree to prevent it from being stolen by scavengers.
- Black Panthers have binocular-like vision which provides increased depth perception essential for catching fast-moving prey
Black Panther Diet
The black panther is an effective and powerful, carnivorous animal. It predominantly hunts on the land at night unnoticed because of its dark fur. The black panther diet varies according to the common prey the part of the world they find themselves. Their major diets are deer, warthogs, wild Boar, tapir and antelope. And in the absence of bigger prey, they could hunt smaller species like birds and rabbits
Black Panther Habits
The black Panther is a very intelligent and agile animal that people rarely see in the wild as they are generally reticent, elusive and cautious animals. The black panther is mostly nocturnal, only becoming diurnal when humans aren’t around. That is why it has been hard to get more pictures or videos of the elusive large predator. Black Panthers are very protective of their territory and hate intrusion. Most leopards spend most of their daytime sleeping in canopies. If they’re not sleeping, then they are likely to be prowling mile after mile watching out for prey. They can roam up to 40 miles in one night.
Black Panther Breeding Habits
There has not been much research on black panther breeding, especially its breeding habits in the wild. But like most normal leopards, a black leopard has no specific breeding season and can mate all year-round if the female is ready. Black panthers and lions have identical mating rituals, typically mating every 15 minutes for up to 5 days. When the female is in estrous she will often mark her scent more frequently to let males know she is fertile.
The female leopard is receptive to mating for about a week. Her gestation period lasts for a little over three months and she usually gives birth to between two and four cubs.
Panther cubs are typically born blind and do not open their eyes until they are nearly two weeks old. They are vulnerable to predators, particularly when left by their mother, who must hunt for their food. The mother weans cubs off her milk, they are self-sufficient at a year old, but they usually stay with their mother until they are around two years. At this time they will establish their own territory
Black Panther Conservation
- Leopard: vulnerable
- Jaguar: near threatened
The black Panther is becoming rarer in the wild primarily due to habitat loss by deforestation. As black panthers only make up 11% on average of each species, which are declining in numbers they are extremely rare. Conservation efforts are being made to conserve the few black panthers left by establishing corridors to existing protected lands, across national borders. Education is needed to stop the purloining of land for grazing and encroachment by human activity on leopards traditional territory.
Q & A
What genus is the black panther?
Black Panther belongs to the taxonomic genus of panthere.
What the biggest threat to Black Panther?
The biggest threat to black Panther are human activities such as hunting, cattle grazing and deforestation. In rare cases they may be preyed upon by lions.
Are black panthers a threat to humans?
Black panthers are wild, aggressive hunters; jaguars have been known to predate on humans who are sleeping at night in rainforests. Defenseless humans have been known to become prey to both leopards and jaguars (which are the same species as a black panther).
Are their differences between a leopard and a black panther?
Apart from camouflage benefits and the colour difference itself, there are no differences as they are the same species.
Can a black panther swim?
The black Panther of the Jaguar species is a strong swimmer and has been filmed swimming across vast rivers. The leopard (black panther) is also a strong swimmer though not as strong as some big cats like the tiger.
How do black panthers adapt to their environment?
Black panthers have a dark black coat that helps them camouflage during the night and catch their prey without being seen. Also, black panthers sharp claws to help them climb trees where they can spring attacks and hunt primates and birds in almost any environment.
Black Panthers in Literature
Bagheera is a black panther who features in the Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.
“Yes, I too was born among men. I had never seen the jungle. They fed me behind bars from an iron pan till one night I felt that I was Bagheera – the Panther – and no man’s plaything, and I broke the silly lock with one blow of my paw and came away; and because I had learned the ways of men, I became more terrible in the jungle than Shere Khan.”Rudyard Kipling, Mowgli Tales