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Black Leopard Pictured In Africa For First Time In Nearly 100 Years

13 February 2019

The photographer said: "I took the photos last month and believe the Black Panther, in this case a melanistic African leopard, is around two years old".

An incredibly rare black leopard has been caught on camera in Africa by a British photographer for the first time in a CENTURY.

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

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

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

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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". "So I've left the cameras for a few days and now I'm heading back to see if I've got anything".

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

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.

That just makes the fact that Kenya, which seems to be the only place black panthers are found in Africa, is also near the location of the fictional country of Wakanda, home of the Marvel universe's Black Panther superhero, all the more striking. Black panthers in the Americas would be black jaguars.

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

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The high-quality system made it possible to see the majestic black leopard, a rarely photographed big cat, despite it being dark.

Most recorded sightings of black leopards have therefore been in the forests of Asia.

According to National Geographic, the extremely rare animal has melanism, where the body produces too much pigment.

Writes Burrard-Lucas, "I can still scarcely believe that this project - which started out as a speculative recce trip - has paid such spectacular dividends!"

The big cat that he captured was confirmed as a juvenile female, travelling with a larger normally coloured leopard, thought to be its parent.

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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.

Black Leopard Pictured In Africa For First Time In Nearly 100 Years