Rare Animal Sighted in Kenya for the First Time in 100 Years

By Eddy Mwanza on 12 February 2019- 5:04 pm                              
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Laikipia Wilderness Camp Laikipia- Kenya Twitter

By Eddy Mwanza on 12 February 2019- 5:04 pm incredible Laikipia Wilderness Camp Laikipia- Kenya Twitter

"Even when you talk to the older guys that were guides in Kenya many years ago, back when hunting was legal [in the 1950s and '60s], there was a known thing that you didn't hunt black leopards".

Published in the African Journal of Ecology, the photos represent the first scientific documentation of such a creature in Africa in almost a century.

An extremely rare black leopard, also known as the black panther, has been recently spotted in Kenya, which marks the first recorded sighting of the elusive animal in over a 100 years on the African soil.

Melanism is the opposite of albinism: it's when a gene is selected that causes a surplus of pigment instead of its absence, resulting in a black-on-black fur, although the patterns of the animals are often still discernible, as in Pilford's photo of the panther. "The only place where we have black leopards is where this place in the Marvel Universe appears to exist".

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".

"Since childhood, I have been fascinated by stories of black panthers.

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. "It took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream".

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.

Black leopards may have been living in Kenya all along, but there's been no footage to confirm the observations until now, Pilfold said.

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

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

"Melanism occurs in about 11% of leopards globally, but most of these leopards live in South East Asia", he said.

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

In Africa, however, melanistic leopards are extremely rare.

Before Pilford's picture, the only confirmed sighting of a black leopard in Africa was a photograph taken in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1909.

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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