Ultra-Rare Black Leopard Is Photographed For The First Time In 100 Years (10 Pics)

Will Burrard-Lucas was ever-so happy a black cat had crossed his path. His cameras’ path, to be more exact.

Image credits: Burrard-Lucas Photography

Will has been a full-time wildlife photographer since 2010 and after years and years of snap, snap, snapping all of his hard work has perfectly reflected in one of his most recent shoots.

In Laikipia, Kenya, on the 11th of February, Will captured a series of high-quality camera trap photographs of a wild melanistic leopard (otherwise known as a black panther).

This was the first time the animal has been photographed in Africa since 1909, said Nick Pilfold, a global conservation scientist at the San Diego Zoo.

Black Leopard Gazing
Image credits: Burrard-Lucas Photography

“The female leopard’s coat is pitch black due to melanism, a gene mutation that results in an overproduction of pigment”

“It’s the opposite of albinism. And although the leopard’s rocking a black coat during the day, its rosette patterns are visible in nighttime infrared imagery.”

Watch the rare black leopard caught multiple times in Kenya:

How did Burrard-Lucas capture the images?

Image credits: Burrard-Lucas Photography

“The images were captured at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya, using [self-made] Camtraptions camera traps,

“Each trap is made up of a Camtraptions motion sensor, which wirelessly triggers a high-quality DSLR or mirrorless camera and two or three flashes.

Image credits: Burrard-Lucas Photography

“I leave these cameras on game paths for days or even weeks at a time in order to photograph elusive animals. The technique also allows me to set up studio-like lighting in order to capture striking images of animals at night.”

The biggest challenge for the photographer was deciding where to put his camera traps.

Image credits: Burrard-Lucas Photography

“When I heard that a black leopard had been seen up at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya, my ears pricked up, and I contacted the owners, Steve and Annabelle Carey, to find out more.

“Steve confirmed that it was true, and he had seen several black leopards over the years. On arrival in Laikipia, Steve took me to meet Luisa Ancilotto who lived close to the camp and had seen a black leopard recently,

“She told us as much as she knew about the leopard’s habits and territory.”

The photographs came out excellently, and the British photographer has a keen eye for capturing the beautiful of this animal.

Written by Hannah Conway