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'I couldn't believe it' - photographer captures elusive, rare black leopard on camera

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Melanistic leopard

'This is what Will's photos and the videos on our remote cameras now prove, and are exceptionally rare in their detail and insight. While albinism causes whiteness due to a lack of pigmentation, the genetic variation melanism results in an excess of dark pigmentation.

Photographed with a Camtraptions camera trap.

Biologist, Nicholas Pilfold PhD, who assisted Mr Burrard-Lucas with his photography project, confirmed the extremely rare nature of the photographs. The photographer used a Camtraptions camera trap and wireless motion sensors, which were strategically placed in order to capture the historic pics.

On another night, one of his cameras managed to capture the leopard in the light of a full moon, prowling through the darkness. "I set up my camera traps up on this trail and it was there that I captured my first image of the black leopard".

The first photograph captured: a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness. 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. "So I've left the cameras for a few days and now I'm heading back to see if I've got anything".

Melanistic leopards have been reported in and around Kenya for decades.

Melanism is the opposite of albinism and although leopards affected by the genetic condition have been reported in and around Kenya for decades, a scientific confirmation of their existence has been almost impossible to confirm.

Just look at those piercing eyes!

Working in collaboration with biologists in the area, Burrard-Lucas went about installing camera traps. In Africa and Asia, that generally refers to leopards. It's now stored in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Pilford told CNN that he's "aware of a few different photos taken over the years, but majority are taken from a distance and could not be used as confirmatory evidence".

It also provides protection from human sightings. 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. "The only place where we have black leopards is where this place in the Marvel Universe appears to exist". In the meantime, we hope that they are safe from harm and able to enjoy their secretive life they've been living. They are more often recorded in the forests of Asia, but even there sightings are rare.

Photo property of Cole and Marmalade / Cat Man Chris PooleREMEMBER: BIG CATS DON'T MAKE GOOD PETS!

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