Black Leopard Pictured In Africa For First Time In Nearly 100 Years

Laikipia Wilderness Camp

Laikipia Wilderness Camp

'Collectively these are the first confirmed images in almost 100 years of black leopard in Africa, and this region is the only known spot in all of Africa to have black leopard'.

The black leopard was spotted near Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia by biologist Nick Pilfold. His team of biologists had placed remote wildlife cameras to track the leopard population near Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia County previous year when they heard unconfirmed reports of a possible black leopard sighting.

The female leopard's coat color is pitch black as a result of melanism, a gene mutation that results in an over-production of pigment, Pilfold said.

Burrard-Lucas used a Camtraptions Camera Trap that included wireless motion sensors, which pick up animals movements in the dark.

They weren't sure whether the tracks they were following were those of the black leopard or a regular spotted one.

The black leopard is one majestic looking cat.

He said he left his cameras outside for several nights.

"I had a quick look at the last trap, not expecting to find much", Burrard-Lucas wrote on his blog.

"I couldn't believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream".

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Nicholas Pilfold PhD, a biologist with San Diego Zoo Global who is now researching leopards at Laikipia's Loisaba Conservancy and helped Burrard-Lucas with his photography project, confirmed that the recent on-camera sighting was extremely rare. Shrinking habitats and scarce resources due to human activity have made the black leopard even more rare since then. Typically in Africa and Asia that would mean a melanistic leopard - a black leopard.

The photographer said: "I took the photos last month and believe the Black Panther, in this case a melanistic African leopard, is around two years old".

Burrard-Lucas told MailOnline Travel that it had been his dream to photograph the black leopard since childhood.

Nicholas Pilfold PhD, a lead researcher for a leopard conservation program in Laikipia County, Keyna, said: "We had always heard about black leopard living in this region, but the stories were absent of high quality footage that could confirm their existence".

There are nine leopard subspecies located from Africa all the way to eastern Russian Federation.

The scientist at San Diego Zoo Global added: "This is what Will's photos and the videos on our remote cameras now prove, and are exceptionally rare in their detail and insight".

That just makes the fact that Kenya, which seems to be the only place black panthers are found in Africa, is also near the location of the fictional country of Wakanda, home of the Marvel universe's Black Panther superhero, all the more striking.

"A black panther is basically a melanistic big cat".

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