Original Article by Daily Nation
Kenya has cemented its place as a natural tourist destination after scientists documented an extremely rare black leopard in Laikipia.
The black leopard was spotted near Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia by biologist Nick Pilfold.
This is the second black panther to be spotted in Laikipia after a similar discovery was recorded by then Nation photojournalist Phoebe Okall in 2013 at Ol Jogi Conservancy.
According to the National Geographic ,the black leopard captured by Mr Pilfold in 2018 has melanism and the last such sighting was in 1909.
“The opposite of albinism, melanism is the result of a gene that causes a surplus of pigment in the skin or hair of an animal so that it appears black. Melanistic leopards have been reported in and around Kenya for decades, but scientific confirmation of their existence remains quite rare,” states National Geographic on their website.
It’s thought that melanism provides additional camouflage in those habitats, giving the predators an advantage when it comes to hunting, says Vincent Naude, leopard genetic forensics project coordinator for the nonprofit Panthera, who was not involved with this research.
The Kenya-based biologist and his team deployed a set of camera traps throughout the bushlands of Loisaba Conservancy in early 2018.
It wasn’t long before he got what he was looking for: undeniable proof of a super-rare melanistic leopard.
The juvenile female was spotted traveling with a larger, normally coloured leopard, presumed to be her mother.