Press Release: Mysterious black leopards finally reveal their spots

Leopards, found from the frozen forests of Russia to the scorching sands of the Kalahari Desert, are the most widely distributed large cat on earth. Their iconic spotted coat has been admired and coveted by humans for millennia. However, in just one region in their vast range, mysteriously the leopards are almost all entirely “black” or melanistic – the Malay Peninsula. This dark colouration sometimes hides the spotted pattern which all leopards have; the spots just don’t stand out clearly in melanistic individuals.

Spotted!

“This is a completely unique phenomenon for leopards, and represents perhaps the only known example of a mammal with almost an entire population completely composed of the melanistic form of the species” says Laurie Hedges, lead author of a study who just published a population density estimate on these animals in the Journal of Wildlife Management.

Melanism is a trait which can be found across many mammal species, and especially in big felids. Though theories, ranging from the explosion of Mount Toba in Sumatra to competition with tigers, have been put forward to explain how this unique melanistic population has come about, scientists are still puzzled…

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Publication update 14: Does social media ‘like’ conservation?

Does Social Media 'Like' Conservation?

This publication is somewhat different from the rest. Spearheaded by Lahiru, it’s a short note on the role of social media, such as Facebook, in conservation messaging.

Many of you have been following us on our Facebook page (the blue Facebook widget tucked into the banner at the top of this site will take you there), which we set up 2 years ago to raise awareness and concern about biodiversity conservation. Over time, we noticed that certain posts got a lot more attention and ‘likes’ than others. When the viral attention received by one particular post we shared shocked even us, Lahiru decided to conduct a little experiment…

Read more about our results and conclusions below, which we submitted to The Scientist, and are now available online:

Wijedasa L.S., Aziz S.A., Campos-Arceiz A. and Clements G.R. 2013. Does Social Media “Like” Conservation? The Scientist. 8 April.

Publication update 10: Publication Bonanza!

Several months have passed since our last update, as Rimba’s researchers have been quietly but feverishly slogging away. Conservation’s not all fun and games – a lot of it is also spent sitting in front of a computer! To make up for our long silence, this particular update features a bonanza of our latest publication efforts (download instructions further below in red). Our conservation scientists are nothing if not prolific!

This is where most of the work gets done

First up, Continue reading