Rare black leopard spotted in Kenya — a first in Africa since 1909

Rare black leopard spotted in Kenya -- a first in Africa since 1909

And biologists have rare footage of this sleek predator walking majestically in Kenya — the very first time the creature was photographed since 1909 in Africa. Nick Pilfold, a San Diego Zoo global scientist, said they captured the footage from sheer luck. The group of biologists had placed wildlife detectors to track the population around Loisaba Conservancy at Laikipia County when they heard unconfirmed reports of a black sighting that was possible. 

“Within a month or two, we were rewarded with multiple observations on our cameras” The coat color of the female leopard is black as a result of melanism which results in an over-production of pigment said. It is the reverse of albinism — and its rosette patterns are observable in night imagery, although the fur of the leopard appears black during the day. 

The last confirmed monitoring was in Ethiopia more than a century ago — also known as panthers — while there were reports of sightings of leopards that were black, ” he said. 

“Melanism occurs in about 11 percent of leopards globally, but the majority of these leopards reside in South East Asia,” he explained. “Black leopards in Africa are incredibly rare, and prior to the observations in our printed paper, the final confirmed monitoring was 1909 in Ethiopia.” 

Leopards may have been residing in Kenya all along, but there’s been no footage to confirm the observations until now, Pilfold said. The black leopard’s sighting was printed in the African Journal of Ecology. Leopards are clarified as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. 

But their numbers have been sharply reduced by many factors, such as competition for prey, hunting, habitat loss, and battle with livestock and farmers. 

Pilfold is a part of a group from the San Diego Zoo working together with partners to track populations in the region and help conserve the species. He marveled at the coincidence of the positioning of an animal that referred to as the black panther — the name of one of the most important films of the year. 

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