Rare Black Leopard Spotted in Kenya

Rare Black Leopard Spotted in Kenya

After deploying camera traps, which take photos when they detect motion in front of them, in the Loisaba Conservancy in central Kenya in early 2018, Pilfold soon had his proof: a juvenile female leopard, with black skin and black spots, wandering through the brush.

For the first time in years, images of the elusive African black leopard have been caught on film, by wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas in Kenya.

After sharing photographic evidence of his impressive discovery, Burrard-Lucas was confirmed to be the first person to capture an African black leopard on camera in about a century.

Pilfold is part of a team from the San Diego Zoo working with local partners, including the Kenya Wildlife Service, to monitor leopard populations in the area and help preserve the species.

Black leopards are well documented in South East Asia, but little is known about their presence in Africa. "Steve confirmed that it was true and he had seen several black leopards over the years".

It's thought that melanism provides additional camouflage in those habitats, giving the predators an advantage when it comes to hunting, says Vincent Naude, leopard genetic forensics project coordinator for the nonprofit Panthera, who was not involved with this research.

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The photographs by Will Burrard-Lucas were taken at the Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya. On returning, I checked them and by the time I got to the last camera, all I had seen were pictures of hyenas but no leopards.

In the paper, Pilfold and his team explained how they set up eight cameras around the Loisaba Conservancy after staff members were alerted about possible sightings of a black leopard.

For those who have watched the famous Black Panther movie, it is easy to think that just seeing the photo of such a handsome creature gives all manner of wakanda vibes.

Black panthers are the catch-all term for any big cats, like leopards and jaguars, with melanism. He complimented Burrard-Lucas's photos because "having images of that quality really hits home".

Will Burrard-Lucas, who shot the images of the black leopard, described his longtime dream to photograph the big cat.

"It is certain black panthers have been there all along, but good footage that could confirm it has always been absent until now", San Diego institute scientist Nicholas Pilfold wrote on an Instagram post. "Within a few months, we were rewarded with multiple observations on our cameras", he told CNN.

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