LAIKIPIA WILDERNESS CAMP, Kenya (FOX 13) - A photographer who had set out to capture photographs of the elusive black leopard has achieved his dream, he says.
Will Burrard-Lucas posted photos of his incredible images online after his adventure in Africa.
Burrard-Lucas said he set up his Camptraptions Camera Traps in an area in Kenya where locals had spotted the leopard roaming. He left the cameras for a few days to capture the images of wildlife at night.
When he returned and scrolled through the images, he spotted a rabbit, a hyena, and finally, the glowing eyes in the darkness of the black leopard slinking through the grass at night. "I couldn't believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream," Burrard-Lucas wrote on his blog.
National Geographic Magazine reports photos of a black panther were captured as early as 1909 in Ethopia, photos which are now stored in collections at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
While Burrard-Lucas reports they're the first high-quality photos of a black leopard in more than a century, other scientists and photographers have also had a similary rare encounter, as documented by the African Journal of Ecology in 2018, and others in 2013 and 2001.
There are nine leopard subspecies that are native to more than 25 African countries, according to the African Wildlife Federation (AFW). The black cats have been listed as "vulnerable" since 1986, the AFW says.
Watch video of Burrard-Lucas making the discovery on his camera below:
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier report said these were the first high-quality photos captured of a black panther in more than 100 years, according to the wildlife photographer. While the spottings of the black panther are rare, the story has been corrected to reflect that these are not the first photos captured of a black panther in more than 100 years.