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Winners Photography Awards 2010

Leopard Pair by Sivilingam & R. Prakash

Not many people have seen a black leopard in the wild. Fewer still have photographed one. And virtually no image has ever been taken before of a pair-bonded female black leopard and a ‘normal’ coloured male. The picture was taken in the Nilgiris but we are not revealing the exact location as this would almost certainly prompt an avalanche of photographers to reach the spot, endangering the tranquillity that is the leopards’ protection. Melanism (increased dark pigmentation) is the opposite of leucism and albinism. Scientists suggest that in felines this seems to boost the immune system, offering resistance to viral infections. Could this be why recessive melanism persists even when the individuals are disadvantaged by being poorly camouflaged in open areas?
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