The leopard is black as a result of a gene that causes a surplus pigment in the skin or hair of the animal - known as melanism - so that it appears black.
Nicholas Pilfold PhD, a biologist with San Diego Zoo Global who is now researching leopards at Laikipia's Loisaba Conservancy and helped Burrard-Lucas with his photography project, confirmed that the recent on-camera sighting was extremely rare.
"Over the days that followed I moved the camera traps around as I gained a deeper understanding of the leopard's movements".
"I couldn't believe it", Burrard-Lucas writes in a blog post.
"As I scrolled through the images on the back of the camera, I paused and peered at the photograph below in incomprehension... a pair of eyes surrounded by inky darkness... a black leopard". "It took a few days to really sink in". He took several photos at night with the hope of capturing photos of a leopard.
Now that the scientists have the images, they can begin studying why exactly this genetic mutation occurs in the savanna, as most black leopards are found in tropical south-east Asia, where their dark coats help them sneakily hunt prey.More news: Russian Federation volunteers to 'help' resolve Venezuela crisis, warns against USA meddling
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Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Annabelle Carey was audibly excited when asked about the rare sighting of the melanistic leopard close to their camp.
Pictures of a rare black leopard have been captured in Kenya, the first verifiable record of the animal for almost a century. Black leopards are actually a type of black panther - made famous by the Marvel Comics character of that name.
While there have been reported sightings, black leopards are still considered rare in the continent, Pilfold said.
After learning that several had been spotted in the Laikipia area of Kenya - the only area thought to have black leopards in all of Africa - he chose to investigate further and set up an expedition this January. "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", said Pilfold. How National Geographic reports that scientific confirmation of their existence remains rare.
"Since childhood I have been fascinated by stories of black leopards". In Latin America, black panthers are usually jaguars.