Black leopards have the perfect camouflage for the night, a rich black coat that hides them from their prey. It also hides them very well from human eyes. Now researchers studying black leopards in the Malaysian Peninsula have discovered that using an infrared camera at the right wavelength shows that these leopards actually have spots. Just like their lighter leopard cousins, these cats have a beautifully made pattern hiding under that black camouflage. The researchers from University of Nottingham and James Cook University are using this method to calculate and identify the population of black leopards since every leopard has a different pattern like a fingerprint on humans.
“Understanding how leopards are faring in an increasingly human-dominated world is vital,” lead author Laurie Hedges, a zoology graduate from the University of Nottingham, explained. “This new approach gives us a novel tool to help save this unique and endangered animal.”
“We found we could accurately identify 94 percent of the animals,” he added. “This will allow us to study and monitor this population over time, which is critical for its conservation.”
The black leopard is a magnificent animal and keeping their population strong is important for everyone. Finding a way to identify and track them is huge. It will help researchers do a better job and have accurate data from this point forward and that’s a good thing. We’re looking forward to more awesome pictures like the one above. Now I wonder if snow leopards have spots?
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