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Appearing and vanishing as they do with the ease of all felines, it is at times
as if they disappear at will even as one watches them. Many is the time I and
others have watched such a cat crossing an open hillside when it has 'vanished'
as if into thin air, presumably into a cave or some hidden goyal as we locals
call the smaller coombes or unfarmed bits of countryside hereabouts.
Yet, as often as not, on going to what seems the exact spot, we find that the
animal has disappeared, with the terrain showing no obvious hiding places. At
such moments the air feels charged with electricity as one's own 'hackles' rise
at the back of the neck and one feels as if one is in the presence of unseen,
watching eyes, which is probably the case.
In recent years sightings of adults with cubs have been made which adds to the
speculation surrounding these superb creatures. I have actually sat at a wood
edge to suddenly feel watching eyes boring me, have turned and there has been a
black big cat just standing observing, as if it has sensed my presence and come
to see what I'm up to. There has never been an obvious threat, yet the feeling
is always one of awe at their owner. At those moments, if it does not leave
then I do - quite quickly.
Once two of us watched a black leopard coming towards us along a disused green
lane, from a vantage point looking down along its length. The lane was bordered
with trees and bushes with steepish fields on either side and leading to a
Suddenly this cat came to a gorse patch but instead of appearing out the other
side it, too, vanished. I say 'vanished' because though it might simply have
lain down to rest up amongst the gorse, when we went down to look, it had gone,
yet I feel sure that at no time as we walked down to the lane did I lose sight
of the spot.
Populations of many of the world’s wild cats are plummeting, with the number of tigers falling to roughly 3,200. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Alan Rabinowitz, a leading wild cat biologist, lays out a vision of how populations of these magnificent creatures can be brought back from the brink.
A black panther is typically a melanistic colour variant of any Panthera species. Black panthers in Asia and Africa are leopards (Panthera pardus). Black panthers in the Americas are black jaguars (Panthera onca).
Melanism in the jaguar (Panthera onca) is conferred by a dominant allele, and in the leopard (Panthera pardus) by a recessive allele. Close examination of the color 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. Recently, preliminary studies also suggest that melanism might be linked to beneficial mutations in the immune system.
There are no authenticated cases of truly melanistic cougars (pumas). Melanistic cougars have never been photographed or shot in the wild and none has ever been bred. Unconfirmed sightings, known as the "North American black panther", are currently attributed to errors in species identification by non-experts, and by the memetic exaggeration of size. Black panthers in the American Southeast feature prominently in Choctaw folklore where, along with the owl, they are often thought to symbolize Death.
He fired again, and there was a fresh thump as the shot went home. The leopard gasped. Flory threw open his gun and felt in his pocket for a cartridge, then flung all his cartridges on to the path and fell on his knees, searching rapidly among them.
'Damn and blast it!' he cried. 'There isn't a single SG among them. Where in hell did I put them?'
originally posted by: AnuTyr