Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Another rare black Leopard spotted found in Laikipia, Kenya

Another rare black Leopard spotted found in Laikipia, Kenya

A rare female black leopard has been captured on camera in central Kenya, the first photographed in the wild for more than 100 years.

Will Burrard-Lucas captured the images, which were released to the public on Monday, at the Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya after hearing reports of sightings in the area.

They are believed to be the first images of the animal in more than 100 years.

The appearance of the animal - which has barely visible spots - is the result of melanism, Mail Online reports.

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

The black leopard is also referred to as a black panther. However, as news of his find quickly spread across the continent, folks at the Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy, about 30 miles west of Loisaba, produced their own photo of a black leopard, taken in 2007.

This genetic variation, the opposite of albinism, results in an excess of dark pigmentation.

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. All I can see is eyes but this is a black leopard emerging from the darkness.

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! "Black leopards in Africa are extremely rare, and prior to the observations in our published paper, the last confirmed observation was 1909 in Ethiopia".

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. I think when I started this project I didn't actually think I was going to be able to achieve a shot of a black leopard in Africa but that it is exactly what is here on the back of my camera.

He said he left his cameras outside for several nights.

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". An April 2017 study found an overall incidence of melanism of 11 percent among leopards, but noted that different habitats showed different frequencies of melanism.

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

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

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