Saturday, 16 February, 2019

Kenya: First Photographs of An African Black Leopard in 100 Years

By Eddy Mwanza on 12 February 2019- 5:04 pm                              
  incredible
Laikipia Wilderness Camp Laikipia- Kenya Twitter By Eddy Mwanza on 12 February 2019- 5:04 pm incredible Laikipia Wilderness Camp Laikipia- Kenya Twitter
Kenny Thornton | 13 February, 2019, 16:11

A wildlife photographer from the United Kingdom has captured images of a black leopard in Kenya.

Burrard-Lucas told MailOnline Travel that it had been his dream to photograph the black leopard since childhood.

"Even when you talk to the older guys that were guides in Kenya many years ago, back when hunting was legal [in the 1950s and '60s], there was a known thing that you didn't hunt black leopards".

"The opposite of albinism, melanism is the result of a gene that causes a surplus of pigment in the skin or hair of an animal so that it appears black".

He says that he used a plethora of camera traps each consisting of a Camtraptions wireless motion sensor, a high-quality DSLR camera and two or three flashes. He checked them and saw multiple photos of hyenas, but not a leopard.

Pilfold's trap paid off, resulting in a black and white portrait of the big cat slinking through the undergrowth.

He said he left his cameras outside for several nights.

Reliving the moment he discovered the pictures on his photography blog, Mr Burrard-Lucas said: "As I scrolled through the images on the back of the camera, I paused and peered at the photograph below in incomprehension. a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness. a black leopard!"

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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.

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

He explained: '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 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".

It's easy to think of black panthers as animals in their own right, but Will says that's not the case. (Supplied) Black panthers are an umbrella term that refers to any big cat with a black coat.

"A black panther is basically a melanistic big cat".

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.

Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Annabelle Carey was audibly excited when asked about the rare sighting of the melanistic leopard close to their camp.

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