In 1788, Jean-Claude Delamétherie described a black leopard that was kept in the Tower of London and had been brought from Bengal. In 1794, Friedrich Albrecht Anton Meyer proposed the scientific name Felis fusca for this cat, the Indian leopard (P. p. fusca). In 1809, Georges Cuvier described a black leopard kept in the Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes that had been brought from Java. Cuvier proposed the name Felis melas, the Javan leopard (P. p. melas). By the late 19th century, the occurrence of black and spotted leopard cubs in the same litter had been repeatedly recorded in India. Black leopards were thought to be more common in Travancore and in the hills of southern India than in other parts of the country. Black leopards were also frequently encountered in southern Myanmar. By 1929, the Natural History Museum, London had skins of black leopards collected in South Africa, Nepal, Assam and Kanara in India. Black leopards were thought to be common on the Malay Peninsula and on Java.
A black African leopard (P. p. pardus) was sighted in the alpine zone of Mount Kenya in the winter of 1989–1990. In Kenya's Laikipia County, a black leopard was photographed by a camera trap in 2007; in 2018, a female subadult black leopard was repeatedly recorded together with a spotted leopard about 50 km (31 mi) farther east in tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands.
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