Very rare black panthers were discovered in Laikipia County, Kenya, which is close to the setting of Marvel’s Oscar-nominated “Black Panther.”
“Our researchers spotted rare black leopards–sometimes called black panthers–in Laikipia County, Kenya,” the San Diego Zoo tweeted Monday.
“Regionally we’ve heard reports of black leopards living here in Kenya, but high-quality footage or imagery to support these observations has always been missing,” zoo scientist Nicholas Pilfold said in a news release. “That’s what we’ve provided here with our cameras, and now we’re able to confirm what has been long suspected about black leopards living in Laikipia County.”
The footage is the first confirmed sighting of black panthers in Africa in almost 100 years, Pilford wrote in an Instagram post.
“Black panthers are uncommon, only about 11% of leopards globally are black,” he wrote. “But black panthers in Africa are extremely rare.”
Until now, only one reported observation of the species in Africa had been confirmed. The report came from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, in 1909.
According to The New York Times, the footage was captured on remote cameras set up as part of a broad study to understand the interactions of leopard populations in Mpala and Loisaba Conservancies, the San Diego Zoo said. African leopards are listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species due to habitat loss and hunting, as well as competition for prey.