Black Panther Sighted in Kenya for the First Time in 100 Years since 1909

A Black Panther (wild melanistic leopard) was sighted in Kenya for the first time in 100 years. The Black Panther had never seen in Africa since 1909 when it was seen in Ethiopia. This was followed by a number of high quality images that were captured by a British wildlife photographer known as Will Burrard-Lucas close to the Laikipia Wilderness Camp, Kenya. It is likely that black leopards have been living in Kenya all along, it is only that high quality imagery to confirm it has been missing until now. This British experienced photographer got his lucky break at the Laikipia Wilderness Camp, a local wildlife haven run by Steve Carey.

Melanistic leopards are iconic creatures with a movie themed around the mythical animal interestingly based within the fictitious land of ‘Wakanda’ in East Africa, the same region in which the actual black panther was spotted and captured on camera. Contrary to popular belief, black panthers are not a species, the animals commonly referred to by this name are simply melanistic leopards and jaguars that have a mutation responsible for their dark or black coat.

He narrated that the biggest challenge in this project was knowing where to put my camera traps after hearing that a black leopard had been seen up at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya. He and colleagues started the search of 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. This enabled the veteran wildlife photographer was then able to set up his Camtraptions camera traps at the most ideal spots and waited it out.

Having placed the traps, it took him about four days before he finally got his big break and captured a wild black leopard, an accomplishment that hasn’t been equaled in possibly a century. Annabelle Carey was audibly excited when asked about the rare sighting of the melanistic leopard close to their camp. The findings from the Camtraptions remote cameras were recently published in the Journal of African Ecology.

A Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) official, Paul Gathitu divulged they had also come across melanistic leopards in the Aberdare forest during a fencing exercise. However, he was yet to receive photographic evidence of the same.