A rare black African leopard

Melanistic leopard

This is as a result of melanism, a gene mutation that results in an over-production of pigment, the opposite of albinism.

For the first time in a century, a rare melanistic leopard, commonly called a "black panther", has been photographed in Kenya.

Will Burrad-Lucas, 35, from Buckinghamshire, snapped the melanistic African leopard - which is around two-years-old - at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya last month.

"I do however believe that they are the first high-quality camera trap photographs", Will Burrard-Lucas, wildlife photographer and founder of Camtraptions, wrote in a blog update.

To capture the images, Burrard-Lucas created his own camera trap system, which he describes in a video uploaded to YouTube. "As I scrolled through the images on the back of the camera, I paused and peered at the photograph below in incomprehension". "It took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream".

Burrard-Lucas, in an interview with The Washington Post, stressed that his photos - along with footage in the same area captured by San Diego Zoo researchers - did announce a breathtaking moment - just not quite the one that was rocketing around social media, fuelled by exaggerated media reports.

The headline screams: "Black leopard spotted in Africa for first time in 100 years".

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

"Black panther is a looser term".

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. The black cats have been listed as "vulnerable" since 1986, the AFW says.

"Regionally we've heard reports of black leopards living here in Kenya, but high-quality footage or imagery to support these observations has always been missing", Nicholas Pilfold, San Diego Zoo Global scientist, said in a news release.

No one but the black leopards know if there are more sightings like this in store for us. These were later revealed to be that of black leopard.

However, the Daily Nation, a Kenyan newspaper, challenged that claim on Wednesday, saying one of its photographers had succeeded in photographing a black leopard in 2013.

"In South America it would be a melanistic jaguar - a black jaguar". Before Burrard-Lucas' efforts, researchers with the Institute of Conservation Research at San Diego Zoo Global and Kenya's Loisaba Conservancy published a study on January 29 confirming five sightings of a female black leopardess previous year in Laikipia County, Kenya.

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