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Rare Black Leopard Photographed In Africa For First Time In Nearly 100 Years



by Jade Small

All photos courtesy of © Burrard-Lucas

After hearing about sightings of a black leopard in Kenya, wildlife photographer Burrard-Lucas headed out to Laikipia Wilderness camp, in hopes of capturing some high quality images of the illusive animal.

Black leopard, sometimes called black panthers, are more common in Asian forests and are extremely rare in Africa.

Burrad-Lucus headed to Kenya in January, and publicly released his amazing photographs on Monday this week.

San Diego Zoo Global Scientist and lead researcher for a leopard program in Laikipia County Nicholas Pilford says that while they had always heard about black leopard living in the Kenyan region, the stories were lacking the photographic evidence.

“Collectively these are the first confirmed images in nearly 100 years of black leopard in Africa, and this region is the only known spot in all of Africa to have black leopard.”


Using a Camtraptions Camera Trap, Burrad Lucas set up along a path known to have had spottings of the black leopard. It took several nights before he managed to capture the photographs


“The next day I eagerly checked the cameras but had no images of leopards,” Burrard-Lucas wrote in a blog post. “I was disheartened and suddenly felt the enormity of what I was trying to achieve. Surely I was not going to be lucky enough to actually photograph a melanistic African leopard?!”


“As I scrolled through the images on the back of the camera, I paused and peered at the photograph in incomprehension…a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness… a black leopard!” he wrote. “I couldn’t believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream.”

“As far as I know, these are the first high-quality camera trap photographs of a wild melanistic leopard ever taken in Africa,” Burrard-Lucas wrote. “I can still scarcely believe that this project – which started out as a speculative recce trip – has paid such spectacular dividends!”

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