A rare black leopard has been captured on camera in Kenya.
The big cat, also known as a black panther, was pictured by remote cameras in Laikipia County which were set up to study the dynamics of leopard populations after reports of sightings in the area.
“I grew up in Koija, which borders Loisaba Conservancy, and elders in my community had told me about black leopards being common in the Laikipia Plateau,” said Ambrose Letoluai, a research assistant for the leopard conservation program.
“It’s exciting to see black leopards on our cameras — and more research into their melanism is needed, so we can understand why they occur here.”
The sightings in arid Laikipia County are particularly significant as black panthers have previously been spotted more commonly in dense forest, where the darker leopards’ camouflage would appear to be most effective.
Black leopards are a result of a genetic mutation called melanism.
It causes the animal’s coat to appear completely black in daytime, though their distinctive pattern is visible in infrared footage.