black leopard Panthera pardus
Diet Ungulates, monkeys, snakes, rodents
B?Territory Africa and Asia
Lifespan 10-12 years
Adult weight 30-65kg (65-145lb)
Habitats Forests, swamplands, grasslands
Shape: Big cats
Size: Body: 4.25 to 6.25ft; Tail: 3.5 to 4.4ft
Natural Habitat: Rainforest, woodlands, marshland, swamps, deserts and mountains
Other Name Black Panther, Black Leopard, Black Jaguar
Conservation statusNEAR THREATENED
The term ‘black panther’ refers to any big cat with a black coat. In India, there are no jaguars or pumas, therefore Bagheera must be a leopard. The spotted and dark varieties of leopard are the same species, and differ only due to a small genetic mutation that produces a dark pigment in the skin. This is known as melanism and is thought to be much more common in big cats living in dense forest, where little light can penetrate. The dark cats are still able to blend in with their surroundings and hunt successfully. They are then able to pass on the melanistic genes when they mate. When looking at black leopards more closely, you will see there is still evidence of their typical rosette markings hidden by the black pigment. It can give the cat a silver-like appearance and these marks are called ghost striping. There is also some evidence to suggest melanistic individuals may have beneficial mutations in their immune systems, so it’s surprising that they aren’t more common in the wild.
The endangered black leopard
Like Bagheera, leopards are highly intelligent and agile cats, but unfortunately, they are now very rare in India. In the region of Madhya Pradesh, where The Jungle Book is set, many are lost to busy roads and travel expansion, with more than 140 leopards killed between 2008 and 2013 alone. They are said to be losing a battle of survival and there have been calls for tougher protection laws and increased conservation action. Something will need to change if leopards are to have a continued existence in central India.
The causes of endangerment black panther animal
Farmers are known to hunt several members of the big cat family, killing them with poison and traps in retaliation for their losses. It’s very tempting for a cat to have an easy meal when they come across livestock, particularly those cats that are old or sick. Sadly, this means they are sometimes killed as a preventative measure. What’s more, overgrazing of the land by livestock can lead to a change in habitat, altering the delicate balance and reducing the amount of prey available for the leopard to hunt.
the need for space is ever-increasing and is forcing big cats into smaller, more fragmented, patches of land. Leopards need a large area to roam around and home ranges can be as large as 40 square kilometers (15 square miles). Land use change – particularly the conversion of land for development – further fuels the human-leopard conflict as leopards find themselves wandering the streets of settlements more often.
Aside from farming, humans also hunt black leopards for their fur, which can fetch a large sum on the black market. Usually tigers are preferred for traditional Chinese medicine but as they are becoming harder to find, leopard body parts are sometimes used as substitutes
The decreasing habitat leopards
The amount of available habitat for leopards has decreased significantly
over the years, particularly in India where land is highly fragmented.
♦ Former range ♦ Current range