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The elusive black panther is spotted in Kenya

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:22s - Published < > Embed
The elusive black panther is spotted in Kenya

The elusive black panther is spotted in Kenya

Images of a rare African black leopard - known as panthers - have been captured in Kenya, the first verifiable record of the animal for nearly 100 years.

Michelle Hennessy reports.

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The elusive black panther is spotted in Kenya

This is the first confirmed sighting of a rare African black panther in nearly a century.

Researchers from the San Diego Zoo were studying ordinary leopards in Kenya's Laikipia County, when the elusive cat made its debut.

Black leopards - which are also called black panthers - carry a gene mutation that makes their coats black.

But the infrared cameras used by the team, helps show off their spots.

British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas also captured the creature nearby.

Collectively these are the first confirmed images from Africa in nearly 100 years.

Nicholas Pilford from the San Diego team explains why they're such a special find: (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL SCIENTIST NICHOLAS PILFOLD SAYING: "We don't see black leopards anywhere further south of Kenya.

We've only seen them here in Kenya, and we've had reports in Ethiopia.

So this suggests that there's a lot of conservation value here in protecting what may be a very special sub species of leopard." San Diego Zoo says scientists had assumed their black coat could be explained by evolution - a way to camouflage them from predators.

But this new discovery in an open, arid habitat could change what scientists know about the panther, and offer clues about the secretive animal.



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