People are fascinated with the black panther so when you have the opportunity to see a genuine jet-black panther crossing a dusty road in the Pench Tiger Reserve in India it’s worth looking at. This is a melanistic leopard which shares territory with the Bengal tiger in this reserve. Although the leopard will avoid the tiger for obvious reasons.
The person (Susanta Nanda) who commented on this video on Twitter said:
“Forever all across the world usually it takes months, sometimes even years to sight a rare animal, however in Pench one can sight the wonders of natural world much more frequently.”
The black leopard is described as a mutant leopard because the coat is caused by a spontaneous genetic mutation. These are natural variations in mutations of recessive or hidden genes. These genes show up when there’s too much inbreeding. Black leopards are melanistic leopards and described as black panthers. This is a bit confusing because the phrase “black panther” also refers to melanistic pumas and jaguars. It is a generic term. And it is very difficult to tell the difference between a black jaguar and black leopard.
Sarah Hartwell of the messybeast.com website tells us that black leopards are less fertile than normal leopards with average litter sizes of 1.8 compared to 2.1. The figure comes from leopards in captivity, however.
The black leopard in the video looks jet-black but this may be because of the poor quality of the video. Normally with melanistic leopards you see ghost spots and they are not genuinely black but more a dark charcoal colour. However, there are very rare examples of black panthers where the spots of a normal black leopard coalesce to give a jet-black coat with no visible markings. It is possible that the leopard that we see in this video is one of those very rare examples.
Sometimes a condition called pseudo-melanism occurs in leopards. The dark spots are densely packed to the point where they merge and obscure the tawny-coloured background. There may be swirls and solid black areas.