Because the black panther is not a single species, no source can provide an exact estimation of its global population. It is a rare colour variation found in numerous species of huge cats. Leopards or jaguars are the most typical black panthers.
All black panthers have a hereditary condition called melanism, which creates an excess of black pigment or melanin. Melanism is caused by a dominant trait in jaguars and a recessive trait in leopards. Being melanistic may provide a hunting advantage for large cats in the forest or jungle, as black cats are less visible in dark, dense situations.