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Rare black leopard captured in Kenya camera trap photos | World News

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A rare African black leopard has been pictured in the first confirmed sighting for almost 100 years.

The elusive cats, also known as black panthers, were last seen in a confirmed observation in 1909 in Ethiopia.

Kenya’s Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy says it took a photo of a black leopard in May 2007 but did not publicise it at the time.

British wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas captured the latest black leopard in Kenya after a friend told him there had been sightings.

The leopard's spots show up on infra-red cameras at night. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas

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The leopard’s spots show up on infra-red cameras at night. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas
Black leopards carry a gene mutation for 'menalism'. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas

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Black leopards carry a gene mutation for melanism. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas

He contacted the landowners and set up motion-sensitive cameras to capture the largely nocturnal cat in Laikipia County, central Kenya, in January.

Black leopards are the same as their spotty relatives but carry a gene mutation for melanism that makes their coats black.

However, infrared cameras used during the night revealed their spots.

Mr Burrard-Lucas set up “studio-like lighting” and left his cameras for days in an area where the leopard had been spotted before he was successful.

The black leopard is very elusive. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas

Image:
The black leopard is very elusive. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas

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

“Nobody I knew had ever seen one in the wild and I never thought that I would either.

“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!

The leopards are even more difficult to capture than their spotty relatives. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas

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The leopards are even more difficult to capture than their spotty relatives. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas

“I couldn’t believe it and it took a few days before it sank in that I had achieved my dream.”

As the photographer was capturing stills of the animals, researchers from San Diego Zoo Global studying leopards in the area set up remote video cameras nearby.

Researchers believe the black leopard is the daughter of a normal female leopard she was seen following.

Leopards are largely nocturnal. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas

Image:
Leopards are largely nocturnal. Pic: Will Burrard-Lucas

Publishing their findings in the African Journal of Ecology, Nicholas Pilfold, from the San Diego team, said: “Collectively, these are the first confirmed images in nearly 100 years of black leopard in Africa, and the first in Kenya.”

Melanism was thought to be a way that leopards adapted to moving out of the dense forests where their spots camouflage them from predators or prey.

However, the sighting in the open, semi-arid habitat of Laikipia raises questions about that theory.

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North Korea: Kim’s ‘great satisfaction’ over sixth missile test in three weeks | World News

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has expressed “great satisfaction” over the “amazing success” of his country’s missile programme after another test on Friday, according to state run media.

The North Korean leader was seen in a newly released photo smiling as several apparently senior military officers stand around him laughing, clapping and pointing at a screen.

On the same day, another photo was released showing the apparent test firing of a new missile – in the sixth round of launches since late July.

A photo from North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) of a missile test fire on Friday

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A photo from North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) of a missile test fire on Friday

Analysts say the launches are attempts to pressure Washington and Seoul over slow nuclear negotiations and their joint military exercises.

Kim was reported by Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) to have said his military’s “mysterious and amazing success rates” in recent testing activity would lead to “invincible military capabilities no one dare provoke”.

The agency added: “(Kim) said everyone should remember that it is the (ruling) party’s core plan and unwavering determination to build a powerful force strong enough to discourage any forces from daring to provoke us and to leave any opponent defenceless against our Juche weapons of absolute power even in situations of physical clashes.”

KCNA did not describe the weapons involved in Friday’s launch but said the tests were successful.

South Korea said two projectiles launched from the North’s eastern coast flew about 140 miles (230km) before landing in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The US envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, is due to visit Japan and South Korea early next week for talks.

Mr Biegun will be in Japan from Monday to Tuesday and in Seoul from Tuesday to Thursday, the State Department said.

The US wants to press ahead with “verified denuclearisation” of North Korea but Pyongyang has ignored South Korean calls for dialogue recently.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim have met three times to discuss ways of resolving worldwide concerns over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, but little progress has been made.

Pedestrians in Japan walk past a roadside television screen reporting on North Korea's projectile launch

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Pedestrians in Japan walk past a roadside television screen reporting on North Korea’s projectile launch

On Friday, a North Korean government spokesperson criticised South Korean President Moon Jae-in for continuing to hold military exercises with the US.

The South and the US confirmed they are holding exercises but have said they are computer simulated, rather than involving actual troops or planes.

The North insists even the downsized drills violate agreements between Mr Kim and Mr Trump.

The test firing occurred on the 74th anniversary of the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea, at the end of the Second World War.

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23 hurt as Russian passenger jet hits flock of birds and makes emergency landing | World News

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A passenger jet has made an emergency landing in a field in Moscow after colliding with a flock of birds, injuring at least 23 people, Russian officials said.

The Ural Airlines A321, carrying 226 passengers and a crew of seven, hit the gulls as it took off from the capital’s Zhukovsky international airport en route for Simferopol in Crimea.

The birds got into both of the plane’s engines and caused a malfunction, the airline said.

The pilot then made an emergency landing in a cornfield about half a mile from the airport.

Emergency landing

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The plane made an emergency landing in a field near Moscow’s Zhukovsky international airport

Elena Mikheyeva, a spokeswoman for Russia’s civil aviation authority, said the engines were turned off when it made the emergency landing and also had its landing gear up.

State media has called the landing the “miracle over Ramensk” – in reference to the district where the plane came down.

There have also been comparisons with US Airways Flight 1549 which landed on the Hudson River in 2009 after striking a flock of geese.

Twenty-three people, including five children, were taken to hospital after the Moscow incident, Russian health authorities said.

Those injured were “considered to be in serious or fair condition”, it said.

Ural Airlines praised the crew for their professionalism over the evacuation.

Emergency landing

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State media has called the landing the ‘miracle over Ramensk’ – in reference to the district where the aircraft came down

The company said the captain is a highly experienced pilot who had flown for over 3,000 hours.

It added the plane was significantly damaged and would not fly again.

An official investigation is under way.

Footage from the scene showed the flight commander directing passengers to walk away from the jet across the cornfield.

Collisions between birds and planes are common in aviation, and while a single bird is rarely dangerous, multiple bird strikes, or hitting large birds such as Canada Geese, can and has caused serious accidents.

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China ‘will not sit on its hands’ over Hong Kong protests – Beijing’s UK ambassador | World News

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The Chinese government will “not sit on its hands” over the protests in Hong Kong, Beijing’s UK ambassador has said, adding it has “solutions”.

It came as new pictures emerged showing the build up of armed forces in the city of Shenzhen, just across the border with Hong Long.

The ambassador, Liu Xiaoming, told a news conference in London that if the situation deteriorates in the region, which is Chinese territory but operates under a different system to the rest of China, it would act to “quell unrest”.

It came after months of anti-China protests which in the last few days have led to the airport, one of the busiest in the world, being closed.

Chinese soldiers walk in formation on the grounds of the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre in Shenzhen

Image:
Chinese soldiers walk in formation on the grounds of the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre in Shenzhen

Mr Xiaoming told reporters: “If the situation deteriorates into uncontrollable unrest, the central government will not sit by and watch, we have enough power to quell the unrest.

“We have enough solutions and enough power within the limits of basic law to quell any unrest swiftly. Their moves are severe and violent offences, and already shows signs of terrorism.

“The central government of China will never allow a few violent offenders to drag Hong Kong down a dangerous road, down a dangerous abyss.”

Pictures released by agencies showed dozens of trucks and armoured personnel carriers and hundreds of troops massing outside the Shenzhen Bay stadium in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong in China’s southern Guangdong province.

The stadium is just across a bridge that is one of the main access roads between the mainland and Hong Kong.

Mr Liu also turned his attention to Britain, saying some politicians in the UK still regard Hong Kong as part of the British Empire.

He said: “Good relations between the UK and China have to be based on no UK interference by the UK in China’s internal affairs.”

A look across Shenzhen's Deep Bay towards Hong Kong on the far right

Image:
A look across Shenzhen’s Deep Bay towards Hong Kong on the far right

Pro-Beijing Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam had warned earlier that the region was in a “state of… chaos” and could enter “the abyss”.

Sky News reported on Tuesday as protesters brought departures at the international airport to a halt, amid violent skuffles with two people they accused of supporting Beijing.

Mass protests have been taking place across the territory since June, originally against a bill which would have allowed people to be extradited to the mainland.

Chinese military personnel gather inside Shenzhen Bay stadium in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong

Image:
Chinese military personnel gather inside Shenzhen Bay stadium in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong

Some have involved hundreds of thousands of people and many have ended in clashes between the protesters and police.

Mr Liu added that they were extremists masquerading as democracy protesters who were dragging Hong Kong “down a dangerous road”.

“We hope this will end in an orderly way,” he said. “In the meantime we are fully prepared for the worst.”

Earlier, US president Donald Trump suggested trade talks with China could wait until tensions in Hong Kong have eased.

He tweeted: “Of course China wants to make a deal. Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!”

Praising Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling him a “great leader”, he added: “I have ZERO doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?”

Mr Liu appeared to respond by saying: “Foreign forces must stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, stop conniving in violent offences – they should not misjudge the situation and go down the wrong path otherwise they will lift the stone only to drop it on their own feet.

“Evidence shows the situation would not have deteriorated so much had it not been for the interference and incitement of foreign forces.

“Hong Kong is part of China. No foreign country should interfere in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.”

More follows…

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