Nick Kleer, 34, is a wildlife guide in South Africa. He's always dreamed of seeing the biggest leopards and has a lifelong admiration for black leopards.
He's been living a nomadic life working as a guide for safaris and taking photos of wild animals while sharing his passion with everyone coming to visit.
After planning his trip for months, Kleer went to northern Kenya, hoping to finally get a glimpse of the majestic leopards. He spent several weeks there and searched a vast area to make his dream come true. And what he witnessed was a sight to remember. And one that he's shared with the world through his photos.
What are the details?
Kleer has always been very respectful of the big cats' habitat, and he got help from locals to be able to get closer safely. He took amazing photos, and he was very touched by seeing the animals.
"That feeling of first laying eyes on this cat remains the highlight of my entire career. I have wanted to see a black leopard my entire life, inspired by the black panther in the Jungle Book story. People often speak of black panthers; in fact, they are referring to either a black leopard or black jaguar," Kleer shared with The Epoch Times about the once-in-a-lifetime sight.
Research in the region and prior sightings guided him to the most likely places where he could see the black leopards. While he was on his trip, Keller got the chance to spot three of them.
"I was in a region of Kenya where the Samburu tribe lives. The people of this region are mostly cattle, sheep, and camel herders. It was like being in the Jungle Book. I stayed at various locations in this district in my search for these cats and had assistance through local guides and from speaking to local researchers and shepherds," the photographer explained.
Kleer shared that black jaguars and leopards are quite rare. Unlike any other leopards that he's taken photos of, the Kenyan black leopards mostly like to roam at night.
Kleer's expedition focused on using spotlights at night, and he was careful not to disturb the animals' natural patterns.
"Spotlighting has to be done to avoid disturbing the animals' natural nightly activities. For example, if the animal is on the hunt, we go 'lights down.' Opportunities are normally brief. Luckily, I have been photographing for several years, so I can quickly get the right settings to capture the shots I'm after," Kleer said.
The man shared his unique photos on social media and said that what he witnessed left him "speechless."
Kleer grew up in South Africa, and he often visited game reserves. That's where he first started taking photos of animals when he was a teenager. He became a professional photographer a decade ago at the same time, he got his wildlife guide certification.
"I've always been particularly interested in big cats, but my love extends to all species. I believe that through photography and videography, I can spread the love for wildlife to all corners of the globe," he said.
Kleer is convinced that traveling is the best way to spend time and money and has gone around the world to take his photos. Even though he doesn't have just one favorite destination, the places he remembers fondly are Botswana, Brazil, Namibia, Alaska, India, Kenya, and Mozambique.
He's taken photos of several species in wildlife places on his way.
"One of my recent highlights would be the grizzly bears in Alaska. They are only photographable for the summer months, as they hibernate through winter and can be seen feeding on grass and berries or hunting fish. It is truly spectacular being up close, on foot, with these wonderful animals, as they are massive and have fascinating social interactions with one another. I look forward to going there again quite soon," he said.
The photographer feels that it's essential to have more people engage with nature because that ups the chances of preserving nature for the benefit of all of us and future generations.
"I encourage all readers to get out into nature and spend as much time as possible in forests, around the ocean, near streams, and with animals. I cannot explain how good it is for your soul, and wellbeing in general, to spend time in nature," Kleer concluded.