For the first time in 100 years, a rare melanistic leopard also called the Black Panther, was sighted in Kenya thanks to a series of rare images taken by camera traps.
The images were captured by researchers from the San Diego Zoo who have been studying leopards in the Loisaba wildlife conservancy, as well as an independent photographer working in the region at the same time.
“We are very excited to hear that these camera traps have captured rare footage of melanistic leopards, otherwise known as black panthers!” the conservancy said on its website.
According to National Geographic, the juvenile female was spotted travelling with a larger, normally coloured leopard, presumed to be her mother.
Melanistic leopards have been reported in and around Kenya for decades, but scientific confirmation of their existence remains quite rare.
Published in January in the African Journal of Ecology, these photos represent the first scientific documentation of such a creature in Africa in nearly a century.
The last confirmed report was a photograph taken in Addis Ababa in 1909 that is stored in the Museum of National History in the United States.
In Kenya, a captive black leopard was photographed in 2013 while other images taken from a helicopter circulated in 2018. However, the latest photos represent the first recorded scientific evidence.
Reacting to the amazing discovery, a Black Panther star actor, Lupita Nyongo wrote on Twitter, “Actual #BlackPanther siting in Kenya. Unreal!”
— Lupita Nyong’o (@Lupita_Nyongo) February 13, 2019
See more photos below:
Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo