A black shadow dropped down into the circle. It was Bagheera the Black Panther, inky black all over, but with the panther markings showing up in certain lights like the pattern of watered silk. Everybody knew Bagheera, and nobody cared to cross his path; for he was as cunning as Tabaqui, as bold as the wild buffalo, and as reckless as the wounded elephant. But he had a voice as soft as wild honey dripping from a tree, and a skin softer than down.
~Rudyard Kipling - the Jungle Book
Although she is known as a black 'panther', there really is no such animal (even the Florida panther is actually a subspecies of cougar). This beauty is a leopard (Panthera-pardus) and has the typical 'rosettes' that all other leopards do, except that she was born 'melanistic', or having a coat so dark the rosettes can only be distinquished in direct light. Melanism is fairly common in leopards and jaguars that live in deep forests where the dark coloration helps to camouflage them from predators and is caused by a recessive gene which may be present in either, or both parents. It is therefore common to have normal and melanistic offspring in the same litter.
Leopards are dispersed over a wider area of the world than any of the other large cats.They can be found across most of the African continent (excluding the Sahara Desert region), throughout much of mainland southeast Asia, parts of Asia Minor, from the Middle East to India, Pakistan, China, and Siberia, and on the islands of Java and Sri Lanka. This wide distribution reflects the diverse adaptability of the group. It's at home in woodlands, lowland forests, mountainous regions and savannas, though it favors forests and forest boundary habitats where trees offer protection and a place to rest and observe the landscape below.
Black panthers (as all leopards) hunt alone, at night, and are infinitely patient and accomplished stalkers, feeding on everything from insects, birds and rodents to giraffes, antelope and small zebras which can weigh over 200 pounds. Their strength and agility enables them to carry their catch up into the trees out of the grasp of lions, hyenas and any other scavengers that threaten to steal their prey. This allows them to hunt less frequently than other ground dwelling cats sharing the same habitat.
Though all of the 'big cats' share similar qualities, or 'medicine',
the following are attributes that have been linked with the Black Panther in particular:
Black Panther's Wisdom Includes:
* Astral travel
* psychic sight
* the power of silence and patience
* Symbol of the feminine
* Reclaiming ones power
* movement in darkness without fear
* Death and rebirth
* guardian/gatekeeper of the void.
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