Stunning images capture rare black leopard in Africa

Laikipia Wilderness Camp

Laikipia Wilderness Camp

But a British wildlife photographer has become the first person to photograph the black leopard in more than a century.

Will Burrard-Lucas, who shot the images of the black leopard, described his longtime dream to photograph the big cat.

The leopard's coat is pitch black as a result of melanism, a gene mutation that causes an over-production of pigment, said Pilfold.

He used specialist equipment including wireless motion sensors, high-quality DSLR cameras and two to three flashes. All I can see is eyes but this is a black leopard emerging from the darkness.

Working in collaboration with biologists in the area, Burrard-Lucas went about installing camera traps. He saw no black leopards until checking his last camera.

Most recorded sightings of black leopards have been in forests of Asia. The cat is so rare it has taken on an nearly mythical status, which is reflected by the fact the creature hadn't been photographed in Africa in nearly 100 years.

In Kenya, a captive black leopard was photographed in 2013 while other images taken from a helicopter circulated in 2018.

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The photos were published in January in the African Journal of Ecology.

To underscore his point, Burrard-Lucas added an addendum to the blog post that started it all: "For clarification, I am not claiming that these are the first photos of a black leopard taken in Africa". "[Scientists] believe these images are the first to show the characteristic rosette pattern on the leopard's coat, thus providing the first scientifically accepted proof in 100 years of a melanistic leopard in Africa". "I couldn't believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream", he wrote.

A wildlife photographer captured an image of a black leopard late at night, something that's fairly uncommon among wildlife enthusiasts. How National Geographic reports that scientific confirmation of their existence remains rare. However, when it comes to black panthers in Africa, that percentage is even smaller, making them extremely rare on the continent.

A photo of a rare "black panther" has gone viral and it's really fantastic.

"By far, these are the best, most intimate images we have of a black leopard in Africa, there hasn't been anything like this before".

The big cat, also known as a black panther, was pictured by remote cameras in Laikipia County which were set up to study the dynamics of leopard populations after reports of sightings in the area.

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