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Saturday, 26 December 2015

Black (Melanistic) Puma?

Of course, the 'experts' ("X" =The Unknown and "spurt" is a drip under pressure) say "impossible!" when it comes to a black puma. Because they have not read about one and they offer up all reasons WHY a puma like look black but is not -wet fur is usually a good one.

I have, in over three decades, spoken to people who have seen "the black panther" on the loose in the UK.  They were close enough to give very clear descriptions.  But while talking to them my mind was asking "What the hell are they talking about?"

You see, a puma looks different to a leopard -black or otherwise.  So when observers add details that we naturalists call "pointers" (they help identify an animal) and you question them on these and you ask "Are you sure it was not just very dark grey -in the light the fur--" and a rather indignant response is: "Excuse me. It was ten feet from me in broad daylight and I have perfectly good eye-sight" then you have to conclude that they saw a black puma.

I can hear the idiots screaming "NO SUCH THING!!" right now.

People talked to me about the "that puma" others have seen and give perfect descriptions of a melanistic leopard (or "panther"). That is acceptable.

Whether farmer, police officers, members of the Armed Forces, doctors, nurses, naturalists and zoologists -whoever, so long as they report black leopards no problem. But a black puma? No, no, no, no!

I received a phone call one day from a man who was driving through a Welsh border area and took a wrong turning.  As he slowed to try and turn on the dual carriageway he stopped the car.  Several yards ahead of him, in the clearest conditions possible was a large black cat.  The cat stood and looked at the driver before moving over the central road barrier and away.  The man immediately got out of the car and walked slowly to where the cat had stood (next to the central road barrier) and used a tape measure to get length, height, etc.  The man made a few enquiries and the localpolice gave him my contact details.

I spoke to the man who told me the size and estimated weight of the "melanistic puma" which was odd because most observers never say "melanistic" just black.  I checked with a biologist who was interested in UK cat sightings.  He laughed and said the man had obviously seen a panther and assumed that it was a puma.  I was told to explain to him why it could not be a puma.

So, I called back the observer and explained what the biologist had said. I won't give his exact words but he pointed out that had it been a panther he would never have gotten out of the car to take the measurements.  I pointed out that it was difficult to get anyone to believe that there were black pumas was there even the possibility of mistake?  There wasn't.  The man described the facil markings of the puma and point-for-point all the pointers.

I was told that a letter was on its way to me with all the details.  I was then told the observers full name -I only had his surname at first.  He was a Professor, a senior lecturer in zoology and biology and had workede at very well known universities and had done work in the United States and Canada -the latter involved work with pumas. He had also been a UK government advisor and when I heard his full name (I'm still waiting to hear whether I can give it in a book I'm working on) I think the blood drained from my face because he was very reputable.  I was asked to get the biologist to phone him if he doubted the Professor's word.  I certainly did not.  The biologist?  Apparently insisted it "must be a leopard" but refused to contact the professor to correct him.

I really have no idea why certain people will scream til dooms-day that you cannot have a melanistic puma.  There is no scientific reason why there should not be and melanism occurs in pumas in certain regions -where they were trapped and transported to the UK/Europe for zoological gardens as well as travelling menageries.

Even old hunters noted shooting black pumas in South America and give very good descriptions -this was "sport" shooting and before handy carry-anywhere cameras but some had detailed sketches made.  If a hunter(s) who hunted and knew pumas from the United States says they shot a black puma then I believe it.  There is absolutely no reason why they would lie about it because it was no big thing, just "another cat" and so what if it was black?  They were interested in telling how they lay in wait or came across the cat and killed it, weighed it and measured it and that's it.  Somewhere in a private collection there may well be a mounted head or stuffed puma gathering dust.

Thousands hunted and shot cats and there is no problem until some know-it-all jackanape's today says "NO! It could not be black!!"

After all, there are very dark brown pumas around and some in zoos.  Citing and continuing to pass along dogma is NOT science.  It is stupidity.  Let's not get into a long list of what top zoologists said were "absolutely impossible" but then turned out not to be.


And the photo above is not photo-shopped.  It is of a genuine very dark brown leopard though it is being used and cited as a very dark brown puma and this one is in a recognised US zoological garden.

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