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Rare black leopard spotted in Kenya -- a first in Africa since 1909
13 February 2019, 04:09 | Glen Norman
By Eddy Mwanza on 12 February 2019- 5:04 pm
Laikipia Wilderness Camp Laikipia- Kenya Twitter
A rare female black leopard has been captured on camera in central Kenya, the first photographed in the wild for more than 100 years.
It wasn't until he visited the Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya that he finally had an opportunity to take photos of the panther. (Supplied) Black leopards are so rare in Africa, researchers don't know if the genetic mutation responsible for the dark pigmentation is the same one that underlies melanism in Southeast Asian leopards.
"The opposite of albinism, melanism is the result of a gene that causes a surplus of pigment in the skin or hair of an animal so that it appears black".
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.
Perhaps you're like me, and the first thing you thought when you saw the pics was, 'How the shit did he get that close to it?' Well, wonder no more.
Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests where their dark colouration is thought to help them hide in the shadows.
"On the second day, we managed to spot the black leopard crossing the road in front of us".
Will captured a spotted leopard on one of the camera traps, which could be the black leopard's dad. "I couldn't believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream", he writes. Typically in Africa and Asia that would mean a melanistic leopard - a black leopard.
The wild African black leopard has been the stuff of legend and campfire story for decades.
The rare melanistic black leopard was photographed by wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas who later posted the pictures on his website.
While there have been reports of sightings of black leopards the last confirmed observation was in Ethiopia more than a century ago, he said.
This is the second black panther to be spotted in Laikipia after a similar discovery was recorded by then Nation photojournalist Phoebe Okall in 2013 at Ol Jogi Conservancy.
'This is what Will's photos and the videos on our remote cameras now prove, and are exceptionally rare in their detail and insight. An April 2017 study found an overall incidence of melanism of 11 percent among leopards, but noted that different habitats showed different frequencies of melanism. Black panthers in the Americas would be black jaguars.
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.
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