Black leopard spotted in Africa for the first time in 100 years

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

The female cat (whose black spotted coat comes as a result of melanism), appeared out of nowhere at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya.

According to The New York Times, a team from the Institute for Conservation Research of the San Diego Zoo Global and the Loisaba Conservancy in Kenya has confirmed the existence of black panthers - also known as black leopards - in Laikipia County, north of Nairobi, Kenya.

Over the next several days, he captured more photos of the black leopard.

Does this animal remind you of a superhero in a certain critically-acclaimed film? These were later revealed to be that of black leopard.

"Black panthers are iconic creatures and yet very few images of wild black panthers exist", said Burrard-Lucas in an email to Hyperallergic.

Melanism is the opposite of albinism, and is classified as an extremely rare condition.




Will Burrard-Lucas posted photos of his incredible images online after his adventure in Africa.

Because of this disparity and their incredible rarity, scientists haven't had the ability to study the cause of melanism in African leopards, and aren't even sure it's caused by the same mechanism as that in South Asian leopards, which are much more commonly melanistic, National Geographic noted. "[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". "As I scrolled through the images on the back of the camera, I paused and peered at the photograph below in incomprehension ... a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness ... a black leopard!"

When Burrard-Lucas heard about possible sightings of a black leopard, also known as black panther or jaguar, at Laikipia Wilderness Camp, he went there to see it with his own eyes. "So I've left the cameras for a few days and now I'm heading back to see if I've got anything". These were placed in areas the black leopard was rumoured to frequent.

Researchers didn't originally set up the cameras to find a black panther.

Pilford said most recorded sightings of black leopards have been spotted in Asian forests. The black cats have been listed as "vulnerable" since 1986, the AFW says.

The irony of the scientific paper coming out not long after the 2018 box office success of Marvel's Black Panther, based in the fictional African nation of Wakanda - which is said to border Kenya - was not lost on Kenya's twittersphere.

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