The little pink-colored Dumbo was not difficult to spot as it contrasted with the grayish skin of its mother and the African elephants in its herd. The baby has been seen by tourists at the Shigwedsi River, where the elephants were drinking and bathing.
The person who spotted the baby was 58-year-old Nicki Coertze, who has been visiting Kruger National Park since he was a child. He said that in all his years at the park, he had never seen an albino elephant before, so he knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime sighting.
Elephants with patches of white pigmented skin, often behind the ears, are sometimes seen, but true albino animals are extremely rare. The harsh sun makes survival a struggle for pigmented animals.
Unfortunately, albino wildlife is also an easy target for predators as they find it difficult to blend into their surroundings.
A true albino has a lack of protective skin pigment, melanin, and has pink pigmented eyes and white skin with pinkish markings. A leucistic animal is white but has dark eyes and may have some pigmentation, producing “ghost” markings. White lions are also an example of leucistic animals.
Albinism is caused by a lack of pigmentation in the skin. The condition also causes vision problems that could eventually lead to blindness, which is common in albino animals.
Often, albino animals can be rejected by their own species due to their unique appearance. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case with this baby elephant. She appears to be fully accepted as the herd is being cared for by her mother.
Dr. Ia Whyte, a specialist in large herbivores at Kruger National Park, said that albino animals may be more common than we think, but they may not survive.
“It’s unclear whether the calf is a true albino elephant or “white,” but it could be what is known as a leucistic animal. A true albino has a lack of protective skin pigment, melanin, and has pink pigmented eyes and white skin with pinkish markings. A leucistic animal is white but with dark eyes and may have some pigmentation that produces “ghost” markings.” – xn--Krgerpark-g3g.co.za
Read some more fascinating facts about elephants here