When researchers try to study black leopards in Malaysia they have a hard time telling the cats apart because they have completely black coats … or so it seems. Using images caught with infrared light, researchers from James Cook University along with other researchers unveiled the black leopard’s amazing spots.
Much like human fingerprints, a leopard’s spots are unique and scientists can use their patterns to identify individual animals. Under normal camera conditions, the images produced by camera traps cannot pick up the leopards’ spots distinctly enough to tell the cats apart. By blocking a camera’s light sensor and using infrared flash during the day, researchers were able identify 94% of the individual leopards they caught on camera.
These beautiful animals face increasing threats from both habitat loss, as oil palm plantations replace natural forest, and poaching. With this identification technique, researchers can now monitor how the leopard population is faring in an increasingly changing environment.
Thanks for keeping it clever, JCU.
[img source] Rimba
The above story is based on materials provided by James Cook University