Rare black leopard spotted in Africa for the first time in the century: “It is a mythical thing’

connectVideoRare black leopard spotted in Africa

A rare black leopard that was spotted in Africa for the first time in a century.

An ultra-rare black leopard with a silky, shiny coat — was spotted in Africa for the first time in more than 100 years, the wildlife photographer who captured the elusive big cat credits the observation just dumb luck.

Photographer Burrard-Lucas had heard murmurs about the possible presence of a black leopard roaming in the area when he the camp in Kenya. With the help of a local guide and other leopard researchers in Laikipia County, who followed the tracks believed to belong to the leopard, Burrard-Lucas eventually settled on what he considered to be the perfect place for you to Camtraptions Camera.

“I never get my expectations, and after the first few nights I had not got this leopard, and I began to think that I would be happy if I have a picture of a spotty leopard, let alone this black,” Burrard-Lucas told BBC News, brands only four days later he struck gold — or better still: black.


Burrard-Lucas told the news organization of the black leopard can easily go unnoticed because it blended into the darkness. But his glowing eyes lit up in film.

“Usually on these camera trap photos with the flash you can see the animal very clearly. But if it is mixed with the blackness of the night, as well what I could see was this eye staring out of the picture,” he described to the BBC.

Will Burrard-Lucas says that the black leopard can easily go unnoticed in the night.

After the sharing of photographic evidence of his amazing discovery, Burrard-Lucas was confirmed to be the first person to capture in an African black leopard on the camera in about a century. A group of researchers in Laikipia County are credited with the help of Burrard-Lucas to reach this incredible achievement.

“Almost everyone has a story about seeing one, it is a mythical thing.”

— Nick Pilfold

The statues which are now accompanied by a paper which confirmed the black leopard recently published in the African Journal of Ecology.

The previously confirmed observation — which is also caught on film — a black leopard in Africa was in 1909 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, according to the paper. A photo of that large black cat is stored in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D. C.

“Almost everyone has a story about seeing one, it is a mythical thing,” Nick Pilfold, who was principal investigator for a leopard conservation program in Kenya, told National Geographic.


Burrard-Lucas’ images can now be found in the African Journal of Ecology.

In the paper, Pilfold and his team explained how they set up eight cameras around the Loisaba Conservancy after staff were warned about possible sightings of a black leopard. In the beginning of 2018, they were able to spot the mysterious black leopard, estimated to be 2-year-old woman, at least five times — Feb. 16, Feb. 28, 11 March, 15 March and 14 April — five different locations.

“Even if you talk to the older guys who are tour guides in Kenya many years ago, when hunting was legal [in the 1950s and ’60s], there was a well-known thing that you are not hunting black leopards. If you saw it, you didn’t have to,” Pilford told the magazine.

There are nine leopard subspecies that originate from more than 25 African countries, according to the African Wildlife Federation (AFW). The black cats are classified as ‘vulnerable’ since 1986, the AFW says.

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