Captured by British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas in the plains of Kenya, the sight of this elusive wild cat in Africa is nothing short of a miracle. By Sushmita Srivastav

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The photograph above may be the first of the black leopard in the wild in Africa for a century. There are few photographs of the elusive cat in the wild, as not only are these beautiful beasts rare and shy of human contact, they are very hard to spot. Panther is another term for an all-black leopard, and sometimes the leopards’ characteristic “rosette” spots can be seen, as here. Only a small proportion of leopards are black. The ones that are usually live in dense forests in Asia, where their dark colouring helps them blend in as they hunt. Imagine this one emerging from the shadows with its eyes on you. UK photographer @willbl had been trying to photograph a panther for years when he heard of sightings near Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya, so he went to visit. The owner soon picked up some fresh leopard tracks nearby and Burrard-Lucas set up camera traps. After several nights of capturing nothing but hyenas, he was scrolling through images on the last camera when he found he was looking at “a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness”. “No animal is more elusive,” wrote Burrard-Lucas on his blog. “ Nobody I knew had ever seen one in the wild and I never thought that I would either.” These are the first confirmed images of a panther in Africa in nearly 100 years, said Nicholas Pilford at San Diego Zoo Global in a statement. Burrard-Lucas’s technique of making camera traps that set off high-quality lighting has also managed to catch elephants, lions and wildebeests. (Story by Clare Wilson, 📸 @willbl) #blackpanther #blackleopard #panther

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The mysterious existence of the extremely rare African black leopard got confirmed when it was spotted in Kenya recently. This was the first time in 100 years that the wild cat was captured in camera on the African lands, an area considered unrelated to the creature.

British wildlife photographer Burrard-Lucas—the man behind the stunning photographs, says that it was his longtime dream to photograph the rare animal. In his blog, he also mentions that he had gotten the inspiration for searching and capturing a black leopard post spotting one in the Kabini forest of Karnataka.

Once he was sure, Camtraption Camera traps were set up near animal trails and water sources for many nights at the Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya. Following the movements, these traps were moved many-a-time before finally it was spotted this January. As per the records, afore Lucas’s pictures, a black leopard was captured in camera on African grounds only back in 1909 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Leopards are described as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. The total extent of the animal’s population decline is still unknown. However, it is reported that only 11% of the total leopard population carries a special gene mutation called melanism, which makes black leopard even fewer in number.

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