Black leopard spotted in Africa for first time in 100 years

14 February, 2019, 08:15 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Laikipia Wilderness Camp

"Black panther" is the popular name for any big cat with melanism, the recessive genetic condition that causes a black coat.

Will Burrad-Lucas, 35, from Buckinghamshire, snapped the melanistic African leopard - which is around two-years-old - at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya last month.

Burrard-Lucas used a series of Camtraptions camera traps, a system he devised, that included a wireless motion sensor and a high-quality camera.

"Over the days that followed I moved the camera traps around as I gained a deeper understanding of the leopard's movements".

After finding tracks, Pilford setup a Camtraptions Camera Trap for several nights until he captured a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness.

Burrard-Lucas, in an interview with The Washington Post, stressed that his photos - along with footage in the same area captured by San Diego Zoo researchers - did announce a breathtaking moment - just not quite the one that was rocketing around social media, fuelled by exaggerated media reports. With their cameras, they caught first photographic evidence of a black leopard in Africa since 1909. The creature is rarely photographed clearly in eastern Africa.

A black leopard raised in captivity at the The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Johannesburg.

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After learning that several had been spotted in the Laikipia area of Kenya - the only area thought to have black leopards in all of Africa - he made a decision to investigate further and set up an expedition this January.

When he returned and scrolled through the images, he spotted a rabbit, a hyena, and finally, the glowing eyes in the darkness of the black leopard slinking through the grass at night.

Burrard-Lucas' images can now be found in the African Journal of Ecology. "The only place where we have black leopards is where this place in the Marvel Universe appears to exist".

Melanism is the opposite of albinism and although leopards affected by the genetic condition have been reported in and around Kenya for decades, a scientific confirmation of their existence has been almost impossible to confirm.

A photo of a rare "black panther" has gone viral and it's really incredible. For example, the researchers noted that a different subspecies of black leopard is much more common than lighter spotted ones in certain parts of Asia.

It took about four days before he finally got his big break and captured a wild black leopard, an accomplishment that hasn't been equalled in possibly a century.

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