Another rare black Leopard spotted found in Laikipia, Kenya

Frederick Owens
February 13, 2019

An African black leopard also known as "Black Panther" has been spotted in Kenya for the first time in 100 years. The team of biologists had placed remote wildlife cameras to track the leopard population in Laikipia County previous year when they heard unconfirmed reports of a possible black leopard sighting.

Melanism is the opposite of albinism: it's when a gene is selected that causes a surplus of pigment instead of its absence, resulting in a black-on-black fur, although the patterns of the animals are often still discernible, as in Pilford's photo of the panther.

He used specialist equipment including wireless motion sensors, high-quality DSLR cameras and two to three flashes.

Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests where their dark colouration is thought to help them hide in the shadows.

The black leopard Will captured is a male and based on its size, thought to be around two years old.

He said he left his cameras outside for several nights.

I had a quick look at the last trap, not expecting to find much. "I couldn't believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream", Burrad-Luca told The Guardian.

British publication The Guardian reports that Nicholas Pilfold, from the institute for conservation research at the San Diego Zoo, has written an article in the African Journal of Ecology about the new photographic evidence captured by Burrard-Lucas.

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According to the Daily Mail, he 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".

The black leopard is also referred to as a black panther.

This doesn't mean the big cat is totally black though, with Mr Burrard-Lucas' pictures revealing typical markings hidden within the leopard's glossy, sooty coat.

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

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".

Summing up the black leopard in three words, Burrard-Lucas said: 'They are truly stunning, handsome and elusive'.

"In South America it would be a melanistic jaguar - a black jaguar".

"A black panther is basically a melanistic big cat". The cat is so rare it has taken on an nearly mythical status, which is reflected by the fact the creature hadn't been photographed in Africa in nearly 100 years.

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