Remote cameras have captured a rare black leopard in Kenya.
This black panther was pictured by the remote cameras set up by wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas in Laikipia Wilderness Camp in central Kenya. The cameras were set up to capture this rare animal following reports of sightings in the area.
When he was first alerted about the existence of the black panthers in the area, Lucas went on to set up a series of Camtraptions camera traps (wireless motion sensors, a high quality DSLR camera, and two or three flashes) for several nights along the cat’s game trail to get its pictures.
The footage shot by the cameras includes both photos and video of the black panther moving in darkness with its eyes glittering in the dark. Black leopards are still considered rare in the continent despite this recent sighting according to Lucas.
Lucas described the experience of photographing the big cat as the achievement of his long term dream.
“For me, no animal is shrouded in more mystery, no animal more elusive, and no animal more beautiful”, he posted on his blog. “For many years, they remained the stuff of dreams and of farfetched stories told around the campfire at night. No body I knew had ever seen one in the wild and I never thought that I would either”.
As seen on the camera, the coat of the leopard is pitch black due to melanism. Melanism causes an over production of pigment. The leopard’s coat appears black during day while at night it has visible rosette patterns as infrared imagery.
About 11% of leopards globally undergo melanism with majority of these found in South East Asia.
According to the statement from San Diego Zoo, the extent to which these animal decline is still unknown. However, several factors have contributed to their sharp decline including habitat loss, hunting, lack of prey, competition with farmers and livestock.