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Stunning images capture rare black leopard in Africa

Stunning images capture rare black leopard in Africa

Nick Pilfold, a San Diego Zoo global scientist, said they captured the footage by sheer luck.

After learning that several had been spotted in the Laikipia area of Kenya - the only area thought to have black leopards in all of Africa - he chose to investigate further and set up an expedition this January.

The opposite of albinism, this rare genetic variation causes a surplus of pigment in an animal's skin or hair.

"As I scrolled through the images on the back of the camera, I paused and peered at the photograph below in incomprehension ... a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness ... a black leopard!"

The black leopard, known as a black panther in Africa and Asia, is a secretive and elusive creature.

This is the second black panther to be spotted in Laikipia after a similar discovery was recorded by then Nation photojournalist Phoebe Okall in 2013 at Ol Jogi Conservancy.

The mythical creature was captured by British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas, 35, while it was prowling around the plains of Kenya in the dead of night with a full moon looming above. On returning, I checked them and by the time I got to the last camera, all I had seen were pictures of hyenas but no leopards.

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

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

The creature - of nearly mythical status - was captured on film by Kenya-based biologist Nick Pilfold using specialist equipment including wireless motion sensors and high-quality DSLR cameras.

"Usually on these camera trap photos with the flash you see the animal very clearly".

Will captured a spotted leopard on one of the camera traps, which could be the black leopard's dad.

The high quality system made it possible to see the majestic black leopard, a big cat which is rarely caught on camera.

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".

Pilfold also pointed out the the location of the sighting is near where Marvel comics located its fictional country Wakanda, home of the character Black Panther.


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