They say that black cats bring bad luck, but when Nick Pilfold heard about one lurking around central Kenya, he knew he was onto something special.
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 colored leopard, presumed to be her mother.
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.