Stunning images capture rare black leopard in Africa

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

A rare female black leopard has been captured on camera in central Kenya, the first photographed in the wild for more than 100 years.

Burrard-Lucas told MailOnline Travel that it had been his dream to photograph the black leopard since childhood.

"In Africa, black leopards are incredibly rare and until now, the only images of them have been fleeting shots taken from great distance or graining images from low-quality trail cameras".

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.

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

"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".

These black-coated leopards were sighted by Burrard-Lucas in Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya, where he been camping since January. All I can see is eyes but this is a black leopard emerging from the darkness.

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.

While albinism causes whiteness due to a lack of pigmentation, the genetic variation melanism results in an excess of dark pigmentation.

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Pilfold is part of a team from the San Diego Zoo working with local partners, including the Kenya Wildlife Service, to monitor leopard populations in the area to help preserve the species.

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

In a video documenting his photography expedition, Burrard-Lucas filmed himself going to check the camera.

He said he left his cameras outside for several nights.

"Scrub hare, mongoose... we have something. Look at this!" he said in disbelief.

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.

"I can't believe it really".

"Usually on these camera trap photos with the flash you see the animal very clearly". The cat is so rare it has taken on an nearly mythical status, which is reflected by the fact the creature hadn't been photographed in Africa in nearly 100 years.

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