Published: Fri, February 15, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Rare Black Panther Caught on Camera in Kenya

Rare Black Panther Caught on Camera in Kenya

A rare image of a black leopard, also known as a black panther, in Kenya captured by Will Burrard-Lucas.

Word of the camera observations brought forth another high-quality image of a black leopard from the Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy, also in Laikipia, which was taken in May 2007.

After hearing reports of a possible black leopard sighting in Laikipia Wilderness Camp past year, the photographer together with the team of biologists from San Diego Zoo set up Camtraptions Camera Traps to watch the leopard population. "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", said Pilfold.

Pilford said he's "aware of a few different photos taken over the years, but a lot of them are taken from a distance and could not be used as confirmatory evidence".

Now that the scientists have the images, they can begin studying why exactly this genetic mutation occurs in the savanna, as most black leopards are found in tropical south-east Asia, where their dark coats help them sneakily hunt prey. "Just the most stunning, spectacular creature I think I've ever photographed".

Burrard-Lucas was disappointed when this spotted leopard replaced the black cat for a time on his camera traps, saying, "I have never been annoyed at capturing a spotty leopard on camera trap before!"

Will has left his cameras at the park in Kenya and is flying back in a few weeks to see what else they've picked up - but time to get more pictures is running out.

Leopards are described as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species.

Habitat loss and fragmentation, conflict with farmers, hunting and other factors have contributed to their declines.

The Kenya-based biologist and his team deployed a set of camera traps throughout the bushlands of Loisaba Conservancy in early 2018. In one conversation in September, he interviewed an elder who told him about the challenges they were facing with ordinary leopards killing livestock in the region. The team then set up a camera trap in that location.

Burrard-Lucas was happy to see the black leopard/panther reappear on the night of a full moon, capturing this shot as the moon was setting behind a ridge. "As a local, people have always been talking about the black leopard".

"As recently as 2017, only a single sighting had been confirmed - a photograph taken in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and stored in the collections of the National Meseum of Natural History in Washington D.C", the report says in part.

"Despite many challenges in the sector, Kenya's wildlife continues to awe and inspire the world", Kahumbu said.

The sighting highlights the importance of developing a conservation program to protect the species.

Kahumbu congratulated Letoluai for helping spearhead the worldwide project.

Like this: