Nomenclatural Change

Erythristic leopards Panthera pardus in South Africa

Tara J. Pirie, Rebecca L. Thomas, Mark D.E. Fellowes
Bothalia | Vol 46, No 1 | a2034 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v46i1.2034 | © 2016 Tara J. Pirie, Rebecca L. Thomas, Mark D.E. Fellowes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 November 2015 | Published: 20 May 2016

About the author(s)

Tara J. Pirie, Ingwe Leopard Research, Lydenburg, South Africa and People and Wildlife Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, United Kingdom
Rebecca L. Thomas, People and Wildlife Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, United Kingdom
Mark D.E. Fellowes, People and Wildlife Research Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, United Kingdom


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Abstract

Background: Leopards (Panthera pardus) show genetically determined colour variation. Erythristic (strawberry) morphs, where individuals are paler and black pigment in the coat is replaced by a red-brown colour, are exceptionally rare in the wild. Historically, few records exist, with only five putative records known from India.

Objectives: To record the presence of erythristic leopards in our study site (Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve, Mpumalanga) and to collate records from across South Africa. Method: A network of camera traps was used to record individual leopards at Thaba Tholo. We also surveyed local experts, searched the popular South African press, and used social media to request observations.

Results: Two out of 28 individual leopards (7.1%) recorded in our study site over 3 years were of this colour morph. We obtained records of five other erythristic leopards in the North West and Mpumalanga regions, with no reports outside of this population.

Conclusions: Erythristic leopards are widely dispersed across north-east South Africa, predominantly in the Lydenburg region, Mpumalanga. The presence of this rare colour morph may reflect the consequences of population fragmentation.


Keywords

Erythristic leopards; South Africa

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Crossref Citations

1. Increasing game prices may alter farmers’ behaviours towards leopards (Panthera pardus) and other carnivores in South Africa
Tara J. Pirie, Rebecca L. Thomas, Mark D.E. Fellowes
PeerJ  vol: 5  first page: e3369  year: 2017  
doi: 10.7717/peerj.3369