Black panther: Rare animal caught on camera in Kenya
13 February, 2019, 16:11 | Author: Sheila Harris
British wildlife photographer, Will Burrard-Lucas, on Monday, captured a series of high-quality images of a wild melanistic leopard (loosely referred to as a black panther) close to the Laikipia Wilderness Camp, Kenya.
The rare melanistic black leopard was photographed by wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas who later posted the pictures on his website.
Most recorded sightings of black leopards have therefore been in the forests of Asia.
Slinking through the darkness, these stunning images show an ultra-rare black leopard in action.
"Almost everyone has a story about seeing one; it's such a mythical thing", says Nick Pinfold, of San Diego Zoo Global's Institute for Conservation Research.
The big cat was traveling with a much larger, more typically-colored yellow and black leopard, judged to be the juvenile's mother, Pilfold told National Geographic. His team of biologists had placed remote wildlife cameras to track the leopard population near Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia County past year when they heard unconfirmed reports of a possible black leopard sighting.
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.
Contrary to popular belief, black panthers are not a species, the animals commonly referred to by these name are simply melanistic leopards and jaguars that have a mutation responsible for their dark or black coat.
The opposite of albinism, this rare genetic variation causes a surplus of pigment in an animal's skin or hair.
Working in collaboration with biologists in the area, Burrard-Lucas went about installing camera traps.
He said he left his cameras outside for several nights.
While checking his equipment, the photographer continues: "Scrub hare, mongoose... we have something".
They weren't sure whether the tracks they were following were those of the black leopard or a regular spotted one. All I can see is eyes but this is a black leopard emerging from the darkness.
Will took the unusual images using a Camtraptions Camera Trap - a camera which has a motion sensor to detect when animals are there.
When Pilford published his proof in the African Journal of Ecology in late January 2019, he believed it was the first such confirmed sighting in Africa since 1909, when a photograph was taken of a black cat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The high quality system made it possible to see the majestic black leopard, a big cat which is rarely caught on camera.
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