Black Leopard Spotted In Kenya

Melanistic leopard

Melanism is a genetic mutation like albinism, except it leads to a surplus in pigment that turns the fur or skin of an animal black.

The headline screams: "Black leopard spotted in Africa for first time in 100 years".

"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", he said.

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

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.

"I paused and peered at the photograph below in incomprehension ... a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness ... a black leopard!"

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

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.

The sightings in arid Laikipia County are particularly significant as black panthers have previously been spotted more commonly in dense forest, where the darker leopards' camouflage would appear to be most effective.

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Pilford explained the majority of leopards in Southeast Asia are black - with the black colour being seen as an evolutionary advantage in the jungles of India and Malaysia. In early 2018, they were able to spot the mysterious black leopard, estimated to be a 2-year-old female, at least five times - February 16, Feb. 28, March 11, March 15 and April 14 - five different locations.

Most recorded sightings of black leopards have been in forests of Asia.

Over the next several days, he captured more photos of the black leopard.

These new photos were captured by wildlife photographer Will Burrard Lucas.

It is the first time that a sighting of the stunning creature has been confirmed since 1909.

"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.

Although not a black panther, the biologists believe the leopard may be the panther's mother.

Pilfold also pointed out the the location of the sighting is near where Marvel comics located its fictional country Wakanda, home of the character Black Panther.

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