Black Leopard Spotted In Africa, Tiger Spotted In India

February 14, 2019

Two rare animal sightings have made headlines this week.

A tiger was spotted in the state of Gujarat in India for the first time in nearly three decades and a black leopard was spotted in Africa for the first time in 100 years.

panther and tigers

The Gujarat government has confirmed the presence of a tiger in the state, days after a man claimed he saw one crossing a road in Mahisagar district.

State forest minister Ganpatsinh Vasava said on Tuesday that the tiger was caught on a camera trap in Mahisagar and tweeted a photo of the majestic beast.

tiger in india
Credit: @Parveenkaswan

"We are yet to ascertain if that area was the tiger's permanent residence or whether it migrated from neighbouring states," Vasava told reporters in Gandhinagar.

Possibly making even bigger news this week, a black leopard has been spotted in Africa for the first time in over a century.

Though there have been reports of black leopard sightings in the past, this is the first time there has been photographic evidence since 1909.

Photos of the ultra-rare black leopard were captured by wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas at Laikipia Wilderness Camp in central Kenya.

According to Burrard-Lucas, he was told by friends that black leopards have been spotted in Kenya and that was enough for him to check it out.

 

"I deployed a plethora of camera traps each consisting of a Camtraptions wireless motion sensor, a high-quality DSLR camera and two or three flashes," Burrard-Lucas said on his blog.

"The next day I eagerly checked the cameras but had no images of leopards. I was disheartened and suddenly felt the enormity of what I was trying to achieve."

I left the cameras for several more nights. 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. I had a quick look at the last trap, not expecting to find much. 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! I couldn’t believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream."

Black leopards, also referred to as "black panthers" - an umbrella term that refers to any big cat with a black coat - seem to be more prevalent in Kenya than in other African countries.

Nick Pilfold of San Diego Zoo Global's Institute for Conservation Research says it's a coincidence that the fictional country of Wakanda, home of Marvel's superhero Black Panther, is located in East Africa, fairly close to Kenya.

"It's a unique coincidence," says Pilfold. "The only place where we have black leopards is where this place in the Marvel Universe appears to exist."

Watch a short behind the scenes video that shows the camera trap set-up used to capture the black leopard.

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