A rare melanistic Jaguar has been recorded by a trail camera at Merazonia wildlife rescue centre.
The centre is near two reserves supported by World Land Trust (WLT): Rio Anzu and Rio Zuñac in central Ecuador. The reserves are owned and managed by Fundación EcoMinga, one of WLT’s four partners in Ecuador.
Prior to the recording, very large cat tracks had been spotted in the Rio Zuñac reserve, and it had been assumed that they were Jaguar prints. This footage now suggests that there could be a black Jaguar ranging through EcoMinga’s reserves.
The video is the first piece of evidence that Jaguars still survive in this area, and confirms rumours of black Jaguar sightings near the reserves.
Jaguars (Panthera onca) are rarely seen in Ecuador and only around 5 percent of those are melanistic, making this black Jaguar footage all the more impressive.
Lou Jost, co-founder of EcoMinga spoke about the colouration of the Jaguar: “The Jaguar in the video has spots much deeper black than the rest of the body, which looks dark but not pure black. This is probably the offspring of one black parent and one normal parent.”
The gene that causes melanism is partially dominant in jaguars: it is expressed even if there is only one copy of it in an individual’s genome. When an individual has two copies of the gene (one from each parent) its fur is significantly darker, and may even be pure black. These individuals are the ‘black panthers’ much celebrated in both fact and fiction.
Read more about the work of Fundación EcoMinga in Lou Jost’s blog »
WLT supports Fundación EcoMinga through land purchases, tree planting and funding rangers.
You can help conservation efforts in Ecuador by donating to the Keepers of the Wild programme.