Ever absolutely nailed a wedding day photobomb? Or snapped a perfectly timed photo of your mate sipping their beer mid-blink, making them appear as pissed as humanly possible? Feels good, doesn’t it?
Well, imagine that feeling times a bajillion, and you might have a sense of how Will Burrard-Lucas must be feeling.
That’s because the 35-year-old British wildlife photographer has captured pictures the likes of which have not been seen in nearly a century.
His photographs show a black leopard prowling through Laikipia Wilderness Camp in the plains of Kenya, below a full moon. The cat is so rare it has taken on an almost mythical status, which is reflected by the fact the creature hadn’t been photographed in Africa in almost 100 years.
The leopard – which is also referred to as a black panther – derives its dark coat from melanism, the opposite of albinism. While albinism causes whiteness due to a lack of pigmentation, the genetic variation melanism results in an excess of dark pigmentation.
This doesn’t mean the big cat is totally black though, with Mr Burrard-Lucas’ pictures revealing typical markings hidden within the leopard’s glossy, sooty coat.
Perhaps you’re like me, and the first thing you thought when you saw the pics was, ‘How the shit did he get that close to it?’ Well, wonder no more. The photographer used a Camtraptions camera trap and wireless motion sensors, which were strategically placed in order to capture the historic pics.
Reliving the moment he discovered the pictures on his photography blog, Mr Burrard-Lucas said: “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.”
Biologist, Nicholas Pilfold PhD, who assisted Mr Burrard-Lucas with his photography project, confirmed the extremely rare nature of the photographs.
According to the Daily Mail, he said: “We had always heard about black leopard living in this region, but the stories were absent of high quality footage that could confirm their existence.
“This is what Will’s photos and the videos on our remote cameras now prove, and are exceptionally rare in their detail and insight.
“Collectively these are the first confirmed images in nearly 100 years of black leopard in Africa, and this region is the only known spot in all of Africa to have black leopard.”
Hats off to Mr Burrard-Lucas.