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Sighting of the Quarter


Sighting of the Quarter

San Diego Zoo Global remote cameras recently recorded a rare black leopard mother and her two cubs in the Loisaba Conservancy, Laikipia County, Kenya. The cameras were placed by Ambrose Letoluai and Nick Pilfold, who are working together to research leopards in the area. This female and her cubs are new sightings, and bring the confirmed total of black leopards living in the study area to five. Although mom is black, she has one golden cub and one black cub.
The footage helps the team understand the location of important denning habitat in their study area, which is vital to protecting the next generation of leopards. Also, this footage indicates that black leopards are breeding on Mpala. It has been hypothesized that the dark coloration of black leopards may be an adaption to shaded habitats—but finding breeding black leopards here challenges that notion, because the environment is semi-arid with no dense forest cover.
Further, the footage showcases the genetic inheritance of the melanistic trait. The black leopard mother has a golden cub and a black cub, which follows what is known about the recessive inheritance of melanism. It is almost certain that she mated with a golden male that also carried a copy of the recessive gene. 
To protect the cubs and their mother, and give them best chance of survival, the site is currently off-limits to visitors.
Source: Nicholas Pilfold, Ph.D., scientist in Population Sustainability at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

Recipe of the Quarter
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