Watch rare footage of a black panther spotted in Kenya

By Eddy Mwanza on 12 February 2019- 5:04 pm                              
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Laikipia Wilderness Camp Laikipia- Kenya Twitter

"Black panther" is the popular name for any big cat with melanism, the recessive genetic condition that causes a black coat.

Burrard-Lucas had heard rumours of one being spotted at the Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya. He uses the Camtraptions motion sensor to trigger "a high quality DSLR or mirrorless camera and two or three flashes", he told Hyperallergic.

Burrard-Lucas spent a few more days on the leopard's trail, moving his camera traps along the way.

Photographer Will Burrard-Lucas told CTVNews.ca over the phone, "it's not an exaggeration to say this was a dream come true ... they're pretty much the number one thing I've wanted to photograph".

After finding tracks, Pilford setup a Camtraptions Camera Trap for several nights until he captured a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness.

Pilford told CNN that he's "aware of a few different photos taken over the years, but majority are taken from a distance and could not be used as confirmatory evidence". "In Africa, however, melanistic leopards are extremely rare".

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

Meanwhile, the area where the animal was captured "is the only known spot in all of Africa to have black leopard", Pilford said, USA Today reported. I think when I started this project I didn't actually think I was going to be able to achieve a shot of a black leopard in Africa but that it is exactly what is here on the back of my camera. "[Scientists] believe these images are the first to show the characteristic rosette pattern on the leopard's coat, thus providing the first scientifically accepted proof in 100 years of a melanistic leopard in Africa". These were later revealed to be that of black leopard. In real-life, however the black panther is a real creature who has almost mythic status thanks to having not been seen in nearly 100 years.

"Black panthers are iconic creatures and yet very few images of wild black panthers exist", said Mr Burrard-Lucas.

Black panthers refer broadly to any melanistic leopard, jaguars and other big cats. How National Geographic reports that scientific confirmation of their existence remains rare. The 2013 image in particular, he said, "is a captive black leopard that was brought from America as a kitten to Kenya, not wild".

Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu said there have been many unconfirmed sightings of black leopards, but this is the first time one has been proven.

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