Rare Black Panther in Laikipia First Highlighted by Kenyan Journalist in 2013 Sparks Worldwide Attention

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PHOTOGRAPH BY WILL BURRARD-LUCAS, CAMTRAPTIONS

While Black Panther, the movie has been shattering all manner of box office records,  another has been captured on camera in Kenya at the Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy in Laikipia. Let that sink in, a sighting of an actual black panther! Why would anyone not love Kenya, the home of everything beautiful!

PHOTOGRAPH BY WILL BURRARD-LUCAS, CAMTRAPTIONS

The irony is that Western Media has been self-congratulating for this sighting, and evidently, diminishing the fact that this black panther has been spotted countless times by the locals, and even brought to limelight in 2013 by a Daily Nation Photographer.

Why is all the noise about a Black Panther?

A black leopard is melanistic—the opposite of an albino cat, with a “surplus of pigment” that makes its coat look black, and it’s “super rare,” says Nat Geo. They’re usually found in Southeast Asia, but a breed has been rumored to have walked the semi-arid shrubland of Kenya for decades. The blanket term “black panther” is used for many of these wildcats, though this one’s spots are evident in the photos.

Burrard-Lucas, the man behind the current photos of the black panther doing rounds on the internet says he got a tip that a black leopard had been seen up at Laikipia Wilderness Camp. Says Burrard-Lucas, “Over the days that followed I moved the camera traps around as I gained a deeper understanding of the leopard’s movements. The next hit I got was further down on the same game trail as the first capture. I love the way this cat melts out of the darkness!”

According to Nat Geo, there are nine leopard subspecies ranging from Africa all the way to eastern Russia. And while 11 percent of leopards alive today are thought to be melanistic, most are found in Southeast Asia, where tropical forests offer an abundance of shade.

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