Rare Black Leopard Was Documented For The First Time in Over a Century

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Rare Black Leopard Was Documented For The First Time in Over a Century

 

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has labeled leopards as critically endangered on their Red List of Endangered Species. Their population continues to decline due to several factors such as habitat loss, illegal hunting, conflict with farmers, competition with prey, and many more. They also have caused trouble for people in South Africa, where they are mainly seen. Nonetheless, people still find them, especially black leopards, fascinating.

 

Photo Credit: @willbl on Twitter (via All That's Interesting)

 

Black leopards are extremely rare; their last confirmed sighting was in 1909. The wild cat is as dark as it is due to a gene mutation known as melanism. It produces an overabundance of pigment in their bodies. It was reported that melanism only occurs in about 11 percent of leopards across the world, which mostly live in Southeast Asia. Recently, a team of San Diego Zoo biologists finally managed to get photographs of black leopards for the first time in more than a century. 

 

Photo Credit: @willbl on Twitter (via All That's Interesting)

 

According to All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, the photos were published in the African Journal of Ecology. The first documented sighting in 110 years was claimed by Nick Pilfold, a global conservation scientist at the San Diego Zoo. Pilfold and his team placed a roster of remote cameras in areas where sightings of these rare black leopards were reported. Eventually, they made their on-screen appearances.

“We intensified our camera placement in the area the reports were being made. Within a few months, we were rewarded with multiple observations on our cameras,” Pitfold said. 

 

Photo Credit: @willbl on Twitter (via All That's Interesting)

 

The photos were captured by photographer Will Burrard-Lucas using the automated Camtraptions Camera which they placed near water sources and animal trails. According to him, capturing the black leopard has been a lifelong dream. “For many years, they remained the stuff of dreams and far fetched stories told around the campfire at night. Nobody I knew had ever seen one in the wild and I never thought that I would either,” he said. 

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