Rare black leopard seen in Kenya

Sergio Conner
February 13, 2019

"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".

This genetic variation, the opposite of albinism, results in an excess of dark pigmentation.

Burrard-Lucas said in his release that he was always interested in black panthers.

After learning that several had been spotted in the Laikipia area of Kenya, he made a decision to investigate further and set up an expedition this January.

"On the second day, we managed to spot the black leopard crossing the road in front of us".

He used specialist equipment including wireless motion sensors, high-quality DSLR cameras and two to three flashes.

After finding tracks, Pilford setup a Camtraptions Camera Trap for several nights until he captured a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness. "It took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream".

These black-coated leopards were sighted by Burrard-Lucas in Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya, where he been camping since January.

February 13, 2019 Nintendo Direct confirmed
Nintendo has revealed that a brand new Nintendo Direct will air tomorrow, and the internet can finally calm down for a few days. We know that the Pokemon Gen 8 game is coming for the Switch in 2019 - but everything else about it remains a mystery.

Solskjaer: Manchester United can't feel sorry for themselves after PSG loss
Manchester United will host PSG on Tuesday at Old Trafford in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 series. Given the Parisians' two away goals, it would take something monumental to turn this tie around for the English giants.

McDonald's launching limited-time Donut Sticks
McDonald's typical breakfast menu consists of various breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, yogurt parfait, and, of course, hash browns. Sold by the half-dozen or by the dozen, the sticks are created to perfectly pair with McDonald's premium roast McCafé coffee.

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.

"This is not just because leopards are extremely secretive and hard to see, but also because only a tiny percentage of leopards are completely black".

"This is what Will's photos and the videos on our remote cameras now prove, and are exceptionally rare in their detail and insight". (Supplied) Black panthers are an umbrella term that refers to any big cat with a black coat. All I can see is eyes but this is a black leopard emerging from the darkness.

While 11 per cent of leopards alive today are thought to be melanistic, most are found in Southeast Asia where tropical forests offer an abundance of shade. "For me, no animal is shrouded in more mystery, no animal more elusive, and no animal more lovely", Lucas wrote.

"Black leopards in Africa are extremely rare, and prior to the observations in our published paper, the last confirmed observation was 1909 in Ethiopia".

The juvenile female was spotted travelling with a larger, normally coloured leopard, presumed to be her mother.

According to the National Geographic the black leopard captured by Mr Pilfold in 2018 has melanism and the last such sighting was in 1909.

This doesn't mean the big cat is totally black though, with Mr Burrard-Lucas' pictures revealing typical markings hidden within the leopard's glossy, sooty coat.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER