Rare black leopard seen in Kenya

Image at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya capured using Camtraptions Camera Trap by Will Burrard-Lucas

Image at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya capured using Camtraptions Camera Trap by Will Burrard-Lucas

According to National Geographic, biologist Nick Pilfold captured the rarest of big cats in a camera trap set up in Loisaba Conservancy after a tip that a "panther " had been seen several times in that area.

While albinism causes whiteness due to a lack of pigmentation, the genetic variation melanism results in an excess of dark pigmentation.

What happened: Photographer Will Burrard-Lucas released extremely rare images that he captured in Africa of the black leopard, known as a black panther in Africa and Asia, walking around at night.

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

Photographer Will Burrard-Lucas couldn't have been luckier when a big black cat crossed his path while snapping wildlife in Kenya last month.

Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests where their dark colouration is thought to help them hide in the shadows. His team of biologists had placed remote wildlife cameras to track the leopard population near Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia County past year when they heard unconfirmed reports of a possible black leopard sighting.

Image copyright Burrard-Lucas Photography Image caption Dad?

A black leopard lounging at the The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve.

The wildlife snapper took the unusual images using a Camtraptions Camera Trap - a camera which has a motion sensor to detect when animals are there.

"We had always heard about black leopards living in this region, but the stories were absent of high quality footage that could confirm their existence", said Nicholas Pilfold PhD, lead researcher for a leopard conservation program in Laikipia County.

The Brit said he couldn't believe it when he returned to one of the traps one day and saw a black leopard staring back at the camera lens.

Will has left his cameras at the park in Kenya and is flying back in a few weeks to see what else they've picked up - but time to get more pictures is running out.

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".

While there have been reports of sightings of black leopards the last confirmed observation was in Ethiopia more than a century ago, he said.

"Coincidentally, our observations are very close to where the fantasy Marvel comic country of Wakanda is suggested to be located", he said.

You don't need two black leopards to make one, but both parents need to carry the recessive gene for melanism.

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

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