Another rare black Leopard spotted found in Laikipia, Kenya

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

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

And biologists have rare footage of the sleek black leopard walking majestically in Kenya - the first time the animal has been photographed in Africa since 1909. "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. "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!"

The animal has a sooty black coat as a result of melanism, which is the opposite of albinism and is extremely rare.

Will has left his cameras at the park in Kenya and is flying back in a few weeks to see what else they've picked up - but time to get more pictures is running out.

They weren't sure whether the tracks they were following were those of the black leopard or a regular spotted one.

The black leopard Will captured is a male and based on its size, thought to be around two years old.

British publication The Guardian reports that Nicholas Pilfold, from the institute for conservation research at the San Diego Zoo, has written an article in the African Journal of Ecology about the new photographic evidence captured by Burrard-Lucas.

Will took the unusual images using a Camtraptions Camera Trap - a camera which has a motion sensor to detect when animals are there.

While there have been reports of sightings of black leopards - also known as black panthers - the last confirmed observation was in Ethiopia more than a century ago, he said.

"We conclude that melanism in leopards is strongly affected by natural selection, likely driven by efficacy of camouflage and/or thermoregulation in different habitats, along with an effect of moisture that goes beyond its influence on vegetation type", the authors wrote.

In a video documenting his photography expedition, Burrard-Lucas explains: "As far as I know none of these leopards has been photographed properly in Africa before".

Pilfold also pointed out the the location of the sighting is near where Marvel comics located its fictional country Wakanda, home of the character Black Panther.

Burrard-Lucas said it had been his dream to photograph the black leopard since childhood.

"A black panther is basically a melanistic big cat".

Will captured a spotted leopard on one of the camera traps, which could be the black leopard's dad. "Melanistic leopards have been reported in and around Kenya for decades, but scientific confirmation of their existence remains quite rare", states National Geographic on their website.

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