Black leopard captured for first time in 100 years by Brit photographer

13 February, 2019, 16:09 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Laikipia Wilderness Camp

Working in collaboration with biologists from San Diego Zoo in the area, Burrard-Lucas went about installing camera traps in a well-protected area where the black leopard was rumoured to frequent.

The big cat that he captured was confirmed as a juvenile female, travelling with a larger normally coloured leopard, thought to be its parent.

Also known as a "melanistic" leopards, these sleek felines have a mutation marked by a prevalence of dark pigment over light.

And biologists have rare footage of the sleek black leopard walking majestically in Kenya - the first time the animal has been photographed in Africa since 1909.

Nine subspecies of leopard range across Africa and Asia, but melanistic versions of the cats are not evenly distributed between them.

"Since childhood, I have been fascinated by stories of black panthers. When I heard that a black leopard had been seen up at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya my ears pricked up and I contacted the owners Steve and Annabelle Carey to find out more", Will revealed in his blog post.

"Thereafter the black leopard disappeared and I started capturing images of a big spotty male instead - apparently he had chased away the younger black leopard". His team of biologists had placed remote wildlife cameras to track the leopard population near Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia County past year when they heard unconfirmed reports of a possible black leopard sighting.


A black leopard lounging at the The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve.

He used specialist equipment including wireless motion sensors, high-quality DSLR cameras and two to three flashes. All I can see is eyes but this is a black leopard emerging from the darkness.

The Brit said he couldn't believe it when he returned to one of the traps one day and saw a black leopard staring back at the camera lens.

Summing up the black leopard in three words, Burrard-Lucas said: 'They are truly stunning, attractive and elusive'. "Melanistic leopards have been reported in and around Kenya for decades, but scientific confirmation of their existence remains quite rare", states National Geographic on their website.

'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.

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