There are three classification variances of Black Panthers, based on geographical, cultural and historical differnces in the origins of the name.
These variations are:
The definition most commonly in use refers to the only types of cats scientifically recognised as being legitimate Black Panthers, namely the Black Jaguar and the Black Leopard.
The strict, or purist, definition of Black Panther refers to the Black Leopard, a species which is a melanistic variation of the usually spotted leopard.
In the crypto-zoological view, the definition may refer to any large cat having a black coat. This can include anything from Pumas, Cougars and Tigers to Lynx, Bobcats and Jaguarundi.
Habitats can range from marsh and woodlands to rainforests, savannahs and swamps, even deserts and mountains.
This variety is largely due to the fact that they eat anything from various mammals to birds and reptiles, all of which tend to favour different habitats.
Black Leopards and Jaguars are mainly found in dense areas of rainforest, where their black coat provides good camouflage.
Black Leopards mostly inhabit the dense and hot tropical rainforests of southern and southeastern Asia, in particular in south-west China, Nepal, Burma, southern India, southern Malaysia and Java.
Sightings, though much rarer, have occasionally also been reported in the Aberdares and forest areas of Mount Kenya in Africa and the rocky, dry regions of Ethiopia.
Black Jaguars inhabit much of central and southern America and parts of Mexico. Although mostly found in the dense Amazon Basin rainforests, they appear equally at home high up in Peruvian and Bolivian mountains and the Mexican desert.