But a British wildlife photographer has become the first person to photograph the black leopard in more than a century. The team of biologists had placed remote wildlife cameras to track the leopard population in Laikipia County a year ago when they heard unconfirmed reports of a possible black leopard sighting.
This is the first time that one has been caught on camera in Africa for 100 years.
The animal - whose coat is sooty black as a result of melanism, the opposite of albinism - is extremely rare.
The creature - of nearly mythical status - was captured on film by Kenya-based biologist Nick Pilfold using specialist equipment including wireless motion sensors and high-quality DSLR cameras.
It was Steve who tipped off Will on the whereabouts of the elusive melanistic leopard, after picking up on fresh tracks allegedly belonging to the black panther, that had been spotted close to the wilderness camp.
The big cat that he captured was confirmed as a juvenile female, travelling with a larger normally coloured leopard, thought to be its parent.
Nicholas Pilfold, from the institute for conservation research at the San Diego Zoo, is the author of an article in the African Journal of Ecology about the new photographic evidence captured by Burrard-Lucas. On returning, I checked them and by the time I got to the last camera, all I had seen were pictures of hyenas but no leopards. "Black leopards in Africa are extremely rare, and prior to the observations in our published paper, the last confirmed observation was 1909 in Ethiopia".
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The Brit said he couldn't believe it when he returned to one of the traps one day and saw a black leopard staring back at the camera lens.
Working in collaboration with biologists in the area, Burrard-Lucas went about installing camera traps.
Will took the unusual images using a Camtraptions Camera Trap - a camera which has a motion sensor to detect when animals are there.
"I left the cameras for several more nights".
According to the Daily Mail, he said: "We had always heard about black leopard living in this region, but the stories were absent of high quality footage that could confirm their existence".
"A black panther is basically a melanistic big cat". An April 2017 study found an overall incidence of melanism of 11 percent among leopards, but noted that different habitats showed different frequencies of melanism.
Pilfold also pointed out the the location of the sighting is near where Marvel comics located its fictional country Wakanda, home of the character Black Panther.