13 February 2019 10:30
The black leopard is a very rare sighting Photo: Courtesy. An incredibly rare black leopard has been caught on camera in Kenya by a British photographer for the first time in a century. These remarkable images, said to be the first clear ones in 100 years of the creature, show the leopard out hunting for prey. They were captured by Will Burrad-Lucas, 35, at the Laikipia Wilderness Camp last month. 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.
The high-quality system made it possible to see the majestic black leopard, a rarely photographed big cat, despite it being dark. Will's images showcase the animal's dazzling yellow eyes as it steps out in the night, under a full moon, to hunt for prey. The photographer said: "I took the photos last month and believe the black panther, in this case a melanistic African leopard, is around two years old. "Black panthers are iconic creatures and yet very few images of wild black panthers exist. "This is not just because leopards are extremely secretive and hard to see, but also because only a tiny percentage of leopards are completely black." The rare leopard.
"In Africa, black leopards are incredibly rare and until now, the only images of them have been fleeting shots taken from great distance or graining images from low-quality trail cameras." He added: "As far as I know, this is the first series of high-quality camera trap images of a wild black leopard ever captured in Africa." The appearance of the animal, which has barely visible spots, is the result of melanism. The opposite of albinism, this rare genetic variation causes a surplus of pigment in an animal's skin or hair. Nicholas Pilfold PhD, a lead researcher for a leopard conservation program in Laikipia County said: "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. "Collectively these are the first confirmed images in nearly 100 years of black leopard in Africa, and this region is the only known spot in all of Africa to have black leopard." A rare female black leopard has been captured on camera in central Kenya, the first photographed in the wild for more than 100 years. 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. Pilfold's trap paid off, resulting in a black and white portrait of the big cat slinking through the undergrowth. "Almost everyone has a story about seeing one, it's such a mythical thing," Pilfold said. "Even when you talk to the older guys that were guides in Kenya many years ago, back when hunting was legal [in the 50s and 60s], there was a known thing that you didn't hunt black leopards. If you saw them, you didn't take it." READ MORE: * Hamilton Nine Lives Cat Show includes a Bengal breeder * National Geographic photo exhibition extended * Queensland leopard shark makes first recorded sexual transition * Antarctic leopard seal given a name as it makes Auckland her new home * Doctoral cat scat studies could help protect native birds and sumatran tigers * 'They are evil monsters': Senegal's killer hippo problem * Sydney panther legend surfaces The cat, a young female, gets her rare colouration from melanism, an excess of colour pigmentation that happens across a number of big cat species, but more commonly in Asian and South American cats. Barcroft A black leopard raised in captivity at the The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Johannesburg. According to Nat Geo, the last recorded sighting of a wild black panther in Africa was in Ethiopia in 1909. 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. "It's a unique coincidence."