A wild black leopard has been photographed in Africa for the first time in more than 100 years.
The stunning images show the leopard – also known as a black panther – strolling through the dead of night while looking towards the camera.
The last picture which was taken of a black panther was in 1909.
The incredible images were captured by Will Burrard-Lucas, a wildlife photographer and founder of Camtraptions, who used one of his cameras to take the pictures in the middle of the night.
The photographer has since shared the pictures on his Instagram page, describing the opportunity as a ‘dream come true’, while attracting tens of thousands of likes for each photograph.
As reported by INSIDER, Burrard-Lucas traveled to Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya, after hearing about a nearby sighting.
He then set up a Camtraptions camera trap – complete with motionless sensors and mirrorless camera – in the hope it would capture one of the leopards.
The photographer explained the reasons behind his fascination in a blog post, stating that for years, his dream has been to document a black leopard on camera.
Since childhood I have been fascinated by stories of black panthers. For me, no animal is shrouded in more mystery, no animal more elusive, and no animal more beautiful.
For many years they remained the stuff of dreams and of farfetched stories told around the campfire at night. Nobody I knew had ever seen one in the wild and I never thought that I would either. But that didn’t stop me dreaming…
Burrard-Lucas returned to his camera hoping to find evidence of the black leopards, but admitted he was not expecting much.
He continued in his blog post:
I had a quick look at the last trap, not expecting to find much. As I scrolled through the images on the back of the camera, I paused and peered at the photograph below in incomprehension… a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness… a black leopard!
I couldn’t believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream.
Burrard-Lucas explained how capturing images of black leopards is difficult, not only because they’re extremely secretive, but also because only 11 per cent of leopards are black.
The last time a black leopard was confirmed to have been photographed in Africa was in Ethiopia in 1909, according to the African Journal of Ecology.
Hopefully we won’t have to wait another 100 years to see any more, especially if those pictures are what we have to look forward to.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).