Rare black leopard spotted in Laikipia for first time

Rare black leopard spotted in Laikipia for first time

According to Pilford, Okall's photo "is a captive black leopard that was brought from America as a kitten to Kenya, not wild".

"We are very excited to hear that these camera traps have captured rare footage of melanistic leopards, otherwise known as black panthers!" the conservancy said on its website.

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

After following leopard tracks through the undergrowth with a guide called Steve, Will settled on a place to set up his Camtraptions camera traps. The cameras were placed near animal trails, and water sources such as pools and natural springs.

On the fourth night though, his luck was in. "It took a few days to really sink in".

"Usually on these camera trap photos with the flash you see the animal very clearly. But as it blended in with the black night so well all I could see was these eyes staring out of the picture", he described to the BBC.

Throughout history, only a single sighting of a black leopard has been photographically documented.

And, after the Laikipia images were released, the Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy produced a high-quality image of a black leopard taken in 2007, National Geographic reported.

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The extremely rare sighting as well as capturing of a black leopard is believed to be the first of its kind on African soil for the first time in over 100 years. A similar coloured animal was captured by former Nation photojournalist Phoebe Okal in 2013. Once the camera traps are all set up, they can be left alone for days or weeks at a time.

"My ears pricked up and I contacted the owners Steve and Annabelle Carey to find out more".

Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests, where their coats make them hard to spot.

There isn't one. The black leopard could also be referred to as a black panther, as this is not a species but an umbrella term that simply refers to any big cat that has a black coat.

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

"It is likely that black leopards have been living in Kenya all along, it is only that high quality imagery to confirm it has been missing until now", Pilfold said.

At first, he did not think that he would get any significant photographs - until he took a closer look at the images. He saw no black leopards until checking his last camera.

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