Ultra-rare black leopard photographed for first time in 100 YEARS in Africa

Slinking through the darkness, these stunning images show an ultra-rare black leopard in action.

The mythical creature was captured by British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas, 35, while it was prowling around the plains of Kenya in the dead of night with a full moon looming above.

This is the first time that one has been caught on camera in Africa for 100 years. 

Slinking through the darkness, these stunning images show an ultra-rare black leopard in action. The mythical creature was captured by British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas, 35, while it was prowling around Laikipia in Kenya in the dead of night

Its wide eyes can be seen looking eagerly for prey, while leopard-like spots can vaguely be seen on its dark coat, which is the result of melanism


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

Burrard-Lucas told MailOnline Travel that it had been his dream to photograph the black leopard since childhood.  

After learning that several had been spotted in the Laikipia area of Kenya, he decided to investigate further and set up an expedition this January.

Burrard-Lucas told MailOnline Travel that it had been his dream to photograph the black leopard since childhood

Working in collaboration with biologists in the area, Burrard-Lucas went about installing camera traps. These were placed in areas the black leopard was rumoured to frequent.

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.

Recounting the moment via his photography blog, Burrard-Lucas writes: '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!

'I couldn't believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream.' 

Working in collaboration with biologists in the area, Burrard-Lucas went about installing camera traps. These were placed in areas the black leopard was rumoured to frequent

Nicholas Pilfold PhD, a biologist with San Diego Zoo Global who is currently researching leopards at the Loisaba Conservancy and helped Burrard-Lucas with his photography project, confirmed that the recent on-camera sighting was extremely rare

Summing up the black leopard in three words, Burrard-Lucas said: 'They are truly stunning, beautiful and elusive'

Nicholas Pilfold PhD, a biologist with San Diego Zoo Global who is currently researching leopards at Laikipia's Loisaba Conservancy and helped Burrard-Lucas with his photography project, confirmed that the recent on-camera sighting was extremely rare.

He explained: '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.

'This is what Will's photos and the videos on our remote cameras now prove, and are exceptionally rare in their detail and insight.

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

'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.' 

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

Most recorded sightings of black leopards have therefore been in the forests of Asia.

In Africa, however, melanistic leopards are extremely rare.  

Summing up the black leopard in three words, Burrard-Lucas said: 'They are truly stunning, beautiful and elusive.'

The big cat that he captured was confirmed as a juvenile female, travelling with a larger normally coloured leopard, thought to be its parent.

The black leopard could also be referred to as a black panther, as this is an umbrella term that simply refers to any big cat that has a black coat.

Source

Comments