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Black leopards have a condition known as melanism, which causes the animal's body to produce an excess of pigment.

The creature - which nearly has a mythical status - was captured by British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas, 35, while it was prowling around the plains of Kenya in the dead of night with a full moon looming above.

Working in collaboration with biologists from San Diego Zoo in the area, Burrard-Lucas went about installing camera traps in a well-protected area where the black leopard was rumoured to frequent.

Burrard-Lucas used a Camtraptions Camera Trap that included wireless motion sensors, which pick up animals movements in the dark.

After several days without success Burrard-Lucas returned to his cameras to find a striking image. All I can see is eyes but this is a black leopard emerging from the darkness.

"I don't think it sank in immediately what I'd managed to achieve, it was such an unusual subject".

Many believe their lovely black coat gives them an advantage when it comes to hunting.

National Geographic adds that there are nine leopard subspecies ranging from Africa all the way to eastern Russian Federation.

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The black leopard, known as a black panther in Africa and Asia, is a secretive and elusive creature.

"It's really neat. The black panthers we have are very close to the fictional ones of Wakanda", he said.

His dream was to capture one of the rarest of African big cats - the mythical black leopard.

And, after the Laikipia images were released, the Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy produced a high-quality image of a black leopard taken in 2007, National Geographic reported.

He's been fascinated with black panthers since he was a child, and in a blog post he said, "no animal is shrouded in more mystery, no animal more elusive and no animal more handsome". But black leopards are rare in Africa.

The difference, Burrard-Lucas noted, was the evidence needed to make a scientific judgment call. While common in subspecies native to tropical forests, on the open savannah they are very rare. That's when he made a decision to head to Africa himself, and set up several covert remote cameras by Camtraptions Camera Trap overnight at the Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya, near where the San Diego Zoo researchers had confirmed the evasive predator's existence. However, when it comes to black panthers in Africa, that percentage is even smaller, making them extremely rare on the continent.

In comics and movies, Marvel's Black Panther is a superhero, granted powers by the heart-shaped herb and a connection with the Panther God, Bast.


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