T’Challa’s Cousins? Scientists Photograph Rare Black Leopard for First Time in Over 100 Years

Illustration for article titled T’Challa’s Cousins? Scientists Photograph Rare Black Leopard for First Time in Over 100 Years
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Not photographed since Betty White was a spry young teenager in 1909, scientists in Kenya published photographs of the rare black leopard after finding it in an area close to where the fictional Wakanda is located.


According to CNN, San Diego Zoo biologist Nick Pilfold was in Kenya working with the Kenya Wildlife Service when he and his team managed to get multiple photographs of the elusive black leopard, which is essentially a regular leopard who has melanism—a gene mutation described as the opposite of albinism that causes an overproduction of melanin and gives them much more rhythm than other leopards. The trait occurs in about 11 percent of leopards globally, but mostly on Asian leopards, and is rarely seen in Africa. So aside from being a comic book superhero, the gene mutation basically means black leopard is also one of the X-Men.

“Coincidentally, our observations are very close to where the fantasy Marvel comic country of Wakanda is suggested to be located,” said Pilfold.

While all big cats, including leopards, jaguars, and tigers, are collectively referred to as “black panthers,” the melanistic leopard has long been a subject of African folklore. However, no one had published photographs of the elusive animal since 1909. I assume that’s when billionaire and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross had one delivered to his 40th birthday party, hoping it would bite him, turn him into a White Panther, and lead him to the secret mines where he could control the world’s vibranium supply.

A black leopard was previously photographed in Kenya in 2013, but Pilford notes that it was “a captive black leopard that was brought from America as a kitten to Kenya, not wild.”

I bet they named the kitten “Killmonger.”

Pilfold said that his team began receiving reports from tribal elders who spotted the animal in Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia, so they began adjusting their wildlife cameras in the area. The researchers eventually published their photographs and findings in the African Journal of Ecology. Photographer Will Burrard-Lucas also captured beautiful high-resolution images of the creature and published them in National Geographic (this is the most incredible photo).


“For me, no animal is shrouded in more mystery, no animal more elusive, and no animal more beautiful, Burrard-Lucas wrote on his blog.

Oh, no.

Listen, people, we have to stop these people from killing the black panther! Whenever white people describe an animal as “elusive,” they are planning to dress up in some throwback colonial outfits and hunt it! I bet they’re at the Banana Republic trying on khaki capri pants right now! And we know Tarzan ain’t gonna do shit because since he’s been with Jane he hardly ever goes out! Mowgli would have to catch a flight from India and he’s too young to travel alone. I guess I’ll have to round up some niggas from St. Louis and book a trip to Wakanda.


Just kidding—trophy hunting is outlawed in Kenya.

But just in case, does anyone have a number for the Dora Milaje?

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I’ll give it a week before I read the headline“Rare black leopard killed by poachers”