Elusive black leopard spotted in Kenya for first time in 100 years

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

These remarkable images, said to be the first clear ones in 100 years of the creature, show the leopard out hunting for prey.

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

"Thereafter the black leopard disappeared and I started capturing images of a big spotty male instead - apparently he had chased away the younger black leopard".

After learning that several had been spotted in the Laikipia area of Kenya, he made a decision to investigate further and set up an expedition this January. "The only place where we have black leopards is where this place in the Marvel Universe appears to exist".

He used specialist equipment including wireless motion sensors, high-quality DSLR cameras and two to three flashes.

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 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. "It took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream".

Black leopards may have been living in Kenya all along, but there's been no footage to confirm the observations until now, Pilfold said.

"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". (Supplied) Black panthers are an umbrella term that refers to any big cat with a black coat.

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.

Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests where their dark colouration is thought to help them hide in the shadows.

A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) official, Paul Gathitu divulged to Kenyans.co.ke that KWS officers had also come across melanistic leopards in the Aberdare forest during a fencing exercise.

According to National Geographic, the extremely rare animal has melanism, where the body produces too much pigment.

In a video documenting his photography expedition, Burrard-Lucas explains: "As far as I know none of these leopards has been photographed properly in Africa before".

The juvenile female was spotted traveling with a larger, normally coloured leopard, presumed to be her mother.

This doesn't mean the big cat is totally black though, with Mr Burrard-Lucas' pictures revealing typical markings hidden within the leopard's glossy, sooty coat.

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