Pictures of a rare black panther – more specifically, a black leopard were captured by wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas in Laikipia Wilderness Camp, Kenya.
The photographer set up a series of camera traps – wireless motion sensors, a high-quality DSLR camera, and two-three flashes’ – for several nights in early 2018 along the cat’s trail to get these pictures.
In the original blog post dated February 13 Lucas explains,’ I left the cameras for several nights. 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. I had a quick look at the last trap, not expecting to find much. 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! I couldn’t believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream.’
National Geographic says it’s been a century since a black leopard was spotted in Africa.
A black leopard is melanistic—the opposite of an albino cat, with a ‘surplus of pigment’ that makes its coat look black, and it’s ‘super rare,’ says Nat Geo. They’re usually found in Southeast Asia, but a breed has been rumored to walked the semi-arid shrubland of Kenya for decades. The blanket term ‘black panther’ is used for many of these wildcats, though this one’s spots are evident in the photos.
People have raised the valid concern that the leopard may now be a target for trophy hunters. Fortunately, trophy hunting is illegal in Kenya. ‘My take is that the benefits of promoting tourism far outweigh the risks and hence I have stated the location. Tourism brings valuable revenue to these places and is often a critical source of funding for conservation efforts.’, said Lucas.
Interestingly, this was not the first time the wildlife photographer spotted a black leopard, a couple of years ago the wildlife photographer captured a magnificent picture of a black leopard in Kabini Forest, India.