Unbelievable real-life black panther photos emerge from Kenya

Black Panther the superhero has earned loads of headlines recently, however it was his real-life counterpart making information this week. British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas captured stills (and cameras from the San Diego Zoo captured video) of the identical elusive black panther at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya.

“We had been recording the identical particular person leopard,” Burrard-Lucas informed me in an electronic mail, noting that black panther and black leopard are completely different phrases for a similar animal. “(The zoo and I) weren’t conscious of one another till our personal separate efforts led to us capturing imagery of the identical particular person.”


Will Burrard-Lucas photographed the animal with a Camtraptions digicam lure in Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya.

Courtesy of Will Burrard-Lucas

There have been some differing stories as as to whether the cat was male or feminine, however Burrard-Lucas says his photos make that clear. It is a boy!

“I do know that every one my photos present the identical leopard and he’s a younger male about two years outdated,” he informed me. “(The zoo) guessed it was a feminine as a result of dimension they usually did not have any close-up images of the again to know for certain. My photos are high-definition (and I’m) 100 % certain the leopard in my photos is a male.”

Burrard-Lucas is the founding father of Camtraptions, an organization specializing in merchandise for distant and digicam lure images, and took his photos with a Camtraptions Digital camera Lure.

In a weblog publish, he notes that he’d been fascinated by tales of black panthers since childhood.

“For me, no animal is shrouded in additional thriller, no animal extra elusive, and no animal extra lovely,” he wrote. In September, he was fortunate sufficient to identify one from a distance in India’s Kabini Forest, however seeing one in Africa eluded him till his current Kenya journey, the place he arrange the digicam traps.


Burrard-Lucas was upset when this noticed leopard changed the black cat for a time on his digicam traps, saying, “I’ve by no means been irritated at capturing a spotty leopard on digicam lure earlier than!”

Courtesy Will Burrard-Lucas

“Every lure is made up of a Camtraptions movement sensor, which wirelessly triggers a top quality DSLR or mirrorless digicam and two or three flashes,” he says. “I go away these cameras on recreation paths for days and even weeks at a time as a way to photograph elusive animals.” He posted behind-the-scenes video to indicate the way it works.

Steve and Annabelle Carey, homeowners of Kenya’s Laikipia Wilderness Camp, and their neighbor Luisa Ancilotto, helped him hone in on a path the place the animal had been seen.

“Black panthers are iconic creatures, and but only a few photos of untamed black panthers exist,” Burrard-Lucas says. “This isn’t simply because leopards are extraordinarily secretive and onerous to see, but in addition as a result of solely a tiny proportion of leopards are black.”


“In all the photographs I had taken, it had been the leopard’s eyes that struck me first,” Burrard-Lucas stated.

Courtesy Will Burrard-Lucas

In a press release about its video photos of the identical animal, the San Diego Zoo notes that the animals we name black panthers or black leopards have a gene mutation referred to as melanism, making their coat seems fully black within the daytime. “Infrared imagery reveals the leopard’s iconic rosette patterns at night time,” the zoo’s assertion says.

When Burrard-Lucas checked the cameras early on in his quest, he thought he’d solely captured photos of hyenas — till he reached the final digicam, and noticed the uncommon black panther seem. However on subsequent nights, that animal disappeared, and a noticed leopard was seen as a substitute. Some stories, together with one from Nationwide Geographic, recommend that the black cat could possibly be the kid of the noticed one.

“The spotty male hung round for what felt like an age and I started to suppose that the black leopard would possibly by no means return,” Burrard-Lucas stated. However on the night time of the complete moon, it reappeared for a shocking shot.


Burrard-Lucas was joyful to see the black leopard/panther reappear on the night time of a full moon, capturing this shot because the moon was setting behind a ridge.

Courtesy Will Burrard-Lucas

Burrard-Lucas notes that he’s not claiming that these are the primary photographs of a black leopard taken in Africa. “I do nonetheless consider that they’re the primary high-quality digicam lure images,” he stated.

Some apprehensive that sharing the photographs would result in the animal turning into a hunter’s goal. Burrard-Lucas calls this a “legitimate concern,” however notes that trophy searching is prohibited in Kenya.

“My take is that the advantages of selling tourism far outweigh the dangers and therefore I’ve said the situation,” he stated in an replace to his weblog publish. “Tourism brings helpful income to those locations and is usually a essential supply of funding for conservation efforts.”

He is nonetheless in disbelief that the black panther was prepared for its close-up.

“I am unable to consider it actually,” he says within the behind-the-scenes video. “Simply essentially the most gorgeous, spectacular creature I believe I’ve ever photographed.”

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