Rare Black Leopard Spotted in Kenya

Melanistic leopard

Melanistic leopard

According to Nat Geo, the last recorded sighting of a wild black panther in Africa was in Ethiopia in 1909.

Nicholas Pilfold PhD, a biologist with San Diego Zoo Global who is now 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. "We intensified our camera placement in the area the reports were being made", he said Tuesday night.

"I couldn't believe it", Burrard-Lucas writes in a blog post.

The black leopard is also referred to as a black panther.

A black leopard raised in captivity at the The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in Johannesburg.

The creature - of nearly mythical status - was captured on film by Kenya-based biologist Nick Pilfold using specialist equipment including wireless motion sensors and high-quality DSLR cameras.


Burrard-Lucas spent a few more days on the leopard's trail, moving his camera traps along the way.

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

His dream was to capture one of the rarest of African big cats - the mythical black leopard.

"This is not just because leopards are extremely secretive and hard to see, but also because only a tiny percentage of leopards are black".

He leads a conservation project in partnership with the San Diego Zoo and has been independently tracking leopards for a year and half.

For those who have watched the famous Black Panther movie, it is easy to think that just seeing the photo of such a lovely creature gives all manner of wakanda vibes.


A black leopard is defined as the melanistic colour variant of any big cat species.

At first, he did not think that he would get any significant photographs - until he took a closer look at the images.

According to Nick Pilfold, a global conservation scientist at the San Diego Zoo and part of the team of biologists Burrard-Lucas was working with, some female leopards appear black as a result of melanism, a gene mutation that causes an over-production of pigment.

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. These were later revealed to be that of black leopard.

Researchers didn't originally set up the cameras to find a black panther. For example, the researchers noted that a different subspecies of black leopard is much more common than lighter spotted ones in certain parts of Asia.


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