Black Leopard Spotted In Kenya

14 February, 2019, 08:14 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Melanistic leopard

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

Whispers of sightings of the elusive black leopard have long swirled around central Kenya, and scientists have now confirmed its presence there with a series of rare images taken by camera traps.

A story that claimed a rare black leopard had not been seen in Africa for 100 years has left Kenyans up in arms. The black cats have been listed as "vulnerable" since 1986, the AFW says.

A black leopard raised in captivity at the The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Johannesburg.

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

To capture the images, Burrard-Lucas created his own camera trap system, which he describes in a video uploaded to YouTube.

"In addition to confirming black panthers in Africa, our observations are unique because Laikipia is a semi-arid shrubland, and previous melanistic observations come from more shaded habitats in tropical forests, which is in keeping with the understanding that melanism is an adaptation to camouflage against dark backgrounds".

Melanistic leopards are iconic creatures with a movie themed around the mythical animal interestingly based within the hypothetical land of "Wakanda" in East Africa, the same region in which the actual black panther was spotted and captured on camera.

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Pilford said he's "aware of a few different photos taken over the years, but a lot of them are taken from a distance and could not be used as confirmatory evidence". According to San Diego Zoo Global, the spots show up in infrared imagery at night.

Burrard-Lucas' images can now be found in the African Journal of Ecology.

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. But black leopards are rare in Africa.

Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests, where their coats make them hard to spot.

Photographer Will Burrard-Lucas had heard murmurs about the potential presence of a black leopard roaming the area when he set up camp in Kenya.

Black leopards have a condition known as melanism, which causes the animal's body to produce an excess of pigment.

He marveled at the coincidence of the location of an animal that's also called the black panther, the title of one of last year's biggest movies.

The black leopard was spotted near Loisaba Conservancy by biologist Nick Pilfold.

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