Elewana Collection report Rare Black Leopards in Loisaba Conservancy

Researchers from San Diego Zoo Global have been using camera traps at Loisaba Conservancy and neighbouring properties in order to understand population dynamics of leopards, and the mechanisms that drive human-wildlife conflict to assess the efficacy of management decisions aimed at mitigating conflict. We are very excited to hear that these camera traps have captured rare footage of melanistic leopards, otherwise known as black panthers. 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.

Black panthers are uncommon, only about 11% of leopards globally are black. But black panthers in Africa are extremely rare. Our new paper confirms black leopards living in Laikipia County, Kenya, and our observations in the paper are collectively the first confirmed cases in Africa in nearly 100 years. It is certain black panthers have been there all along, but good footage that could confirm it has always been absent until now.”

African leopards are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Habitat loss and fragmentation, competition for prey, conflict with livestock and farmers, and hunting have reduced the number of leopards throughout Africa, although the total extent of this population decline is still unknown. 

Guests staying at Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp and Elewana Loisaba Star Beds may be lucky enough to spot this rare and beautiful leopard. They can also learn about the cutting-edge conservation efforts in the area and our Partners, who strive to protect our wildlife and work with the communities to ensure this prime ecosystem is remains as it should.