Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Black Leopard Pictured In Africa For First Time In Nearly 100 Years

Black Leopard Pictured In Africa For First Time In Nearly 100 Years

The team of biologists had placed remote wildlife cameras to track the leopard population in Laikipia County previous year when they heard unconfirmed reports of a possible black leopard sighting.

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

Burrard-Lucas said in his release that he was always interested in black panthers.

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

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

According to National Geographic, biologist Nick Pilfold captured the rarest of big cats in a camera trap set up in Loisaba Conservancy after a tip that a "panther " had been seen several times in that area. These were placed in areas the black leopard was rumoured to frequent.

He added: "As far as I know, this is the first series of high-quality camera trap images of a wild black leopard ever captured in Africa". "It took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream".

"When I heard that a black leopard had been seen up at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya my ears pricked up and I contacted the owners Steve and Annabelle Carey to find out more", Will revealed in his blog post.


Nicholas Pilfold, from the institute for conservation research at the San Diego Zoo, is the author of an article in the African Journal of Ecology about the new photographic evidence captured by Burrard-Lucas.

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

The high-quality system made it possible to see the majestic black leopard, a rarely photographed big cat, despite it being dark.

While 11 per cent of leopards alive today are thought to be melanistic, most are found in Southeast Asia where tropical forests offer an abundance of shade.

In Africa, however, melanistic leopards are extremely rare. "For me, no animal is shrouded in more mystery, no animal more elusive, and no animal more handsome", Lucas wrote.

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

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.

'Collectively these are the first confirmed images in almost 100 years of black leopard in Africa, and this region is the only known spot in all of Africa to have black leopard'.

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