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Another black panther spotted in Laikipia

13 February 2019

The creature - which nearly has a mythical status - 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.

It wasn't until he visited the Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya that he finally had an opportunity to take photos of the panther.

What happened: Photographer Will Burrard-Lucas released extremely rare images that he captured in Africa of the black leopard, known as a black panther in Africa and Asia, walking around at night.

This genetic variation, the opposite of albinism, results in an excess of dark pigmentation.

Writes Burrard-Lucas, "I can still scarcely believe that this project - which started out as a speculative recce trip - has paid such spectacular dividends!"

He used specialist equipment including wireless motion sensors, high-quality DSLR cameras and two to three flashes. The team of biologists had placed remote wildlife cameras to track the leopard population in Laikipia County a year ago when they heard unconfirmed reports of a possible black leopard sighting.

Working in collaboration with biologists in the area, Burrard-Lucas went about installing camera traps.

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The Brit said he couldn't believe it when he returned to one of the traps one day and saw a black leopard staring back at the camera lens. "So I've left the cameras for a few days and now I'm heading back to see if I've got anything".

Black leopards may have been living in Kenya all along, but there's been no footage to confirm the observations until now, Pilfold said.

'This is what Will's photos and the videos on our remote cameras now prove, and are exceptionally rare in their detail and insight. He took several photos at night with the hope of capturing photos of a leopard.

Black leopards are usually associated with dense forests where their dark colouration is thought to help them hide in the shadows.

This is the second black panther to be spotted in Laikipia after a similar discovery was recorded by then Nation photojournalist Phoebe Okall in 2013 at Ol Jogi Conservancy.

Melanistic leopards are iconic creatures with a movie themed around the mythical animal interestingly based within the hypothetical land of "Wakanda" in East Africa, the same region in which the actual black panther was spotted and captured on camera.

Because of this disparity and their incredible rarity, scientists haven't had the ability to study the cause of melanism in African leopards, and aren't even sure it's caused by the same mechanism as that in South Asian leopards, which are much more commonly melanistic, National Geographic noted.

Another black panther spotted in Laikipia