An incredibly rare black leopard has been caught on camera in Kenya by a British photographer for the first time in a century.
These remarkable images, said to be the first clear ones in 100 years of the creature, show the leopard out hunting for prey.
They were captured by Will Burrad-Lucas, 35, at the Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya last month.
The photographer said: “I took the photos last month and believe the black panther, in this case a melanistic African leopard, is around two years old.
“Black panthers are iconic creatures and yet very few images of wild black panthers exist.
“This is not just because leopards are extremely secretive and hard to see, but also because only a tiny percentage of leopards are completely black.”
“In Africa, black leopards are incredibly rare and until now, the only images of them have been fleeting shots taken from great distance or graining images from low-quality trail cameras.”
He added: “As far as I know, this is the first series of high-quality camera trap images of a wild black leopard ever captured in Africa.”
The appearance of the animal, which has barely visible spots, is the result of melanism.
The opposite of albinism, this rare genetic variation causes a surplus of pigment in an animal’s skin or hair.
Nicholas Pilfold PhD, a lead researcher for a leopard conservation program in Laikipia County said: “We had always heard about black leopard living in this region, but the stories were absent of high quality footage that could confirm their existence.”
The scientist at San Diego Zoo Global added: “This is what Will’s photos and the videos on our remote cameras now prove, and are exceptionally rare in their detail and insight.
“Collectively these are the first confirmed images in nearly 100 years of black leopard in Africa, and this region is the only known spot in all of Africa to have black leopard.”
According to The Guardian while there have been recorded reports of black leopards in Africa for more than a century, only one had been confirmed with photographic evidence, a 1909 photograph taken in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.