Most of us know it as the title held by the king of Wakanda, a fictional African kingdom in Marvel comics and movies. However, what is a black panther in actual life? Let’s find out in this article.
#1. Is A Black Panther A Leopard Or Jaguar?
The black panther is actually not an individual subspecies or a species itself, unlike the tiger, the lion or the cheetah. A black panther is basically a black-coated big cat such as a black leopard (in Africa and Asia), a black jaguar (in Latin America) and a black puma (or mountain lion, in North America). It’s just a concept to call these rare, dark felines. As a result, a black panther or a panther refers to a black feline of these subspecies. In fact, there is a higher possibility for a black panther being a jaguar or a puma than a leopard. The ratio to actually see a wild black leopard is extremely small.
#2. What Is A Black Panther’s Habitat?
Source: The New York Times
It is based on what kind of panther it is. A black leopard would inhabit the rainforests of Southeast and South Asia, or savannahs and jungles in Africa. Meanwhile its black-furred variants in America might live on mountains and the jungles. Surprisingly, only in 2022, actual footage and images of the rare African black panther were captured by photographer Don Heyneke. This is also the very first time this stunning, secretive predator is exposed to humans’ eyes, in over 100 years. After spending almost 250 hours in the Kenyan bush, he finally took photos of this rare animal.
#3. Are Black Panthers Bigger Than Tigers?
No. In fact, the largest tiger is quite larger than the biggest lion that was ever recorded. A Seberian tiger might weigh up to 300 kg, while an African lion is 275 kg in weight. This makes the tiger the largest species among the big cat family. The biggest black panther recordedly is around 230 kg. However, they are both among the biggest wild cat species and deadliest top predators.
#4. How Rare Is A Black Panther?
About 11 percent of jaguars and leopards are black. Which means they are rather rare in the wilderness. Furthermore, since the species such as the jaguar and the leopard are nocturnal animals, it’s so much harder to spot them at night. Especially when they have a black, dark as night fur. However, the chance to spot a black leopard is much lesser than the chance to spot a black jaguar.
#5. Why Is A Black Panther Black?
It is somehow similar to humans. A human’s skin would be darker while his body has excess black pigments, making his skin more tanned. This principle does also apply to animals such as big cats. It is mostly natural, caused by melanism. However, these ghosts of the forests might also be lacking sunlight, resulting in their dark color. In general, they are one of the magnificent creatures of nature which should be protected and conserved.
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