Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Albino Buffalo Calf--Kenya's Hellsgate National Park

Apr 2009

The three-month-old calf is easily distinguished from the other buffaloes traveling with it in a large herd by its very light brown coat.

It has only just been spotted, months after its birth, because its herd was largely confined to obscure, shaded areas to mitigate against recent drought conditions.

Nelly Palmeris, senior warden at Hellsgate, said the find was an exciting one.

"This is the first time that an albino buffalo has been found in our parks and it's a great day for nature and animals lovers," she said.

But there are also concerns for the young creature, whose lighter colour will make it a more noticeable target for predators.

The cultural stigma against albinos, both animal and human, among the Maasai farmers that live near the park, could also create a threat.

"The African community and especially Maasais associate albinos with bad omens. We are just coming from a bad drought and the Maasai might associate the famine with this buffalo and kill it," Mrs Palmeris said.

She said that rangers have enhanced security around the herd to ensure the Maasai do not attack the calf.

While the rare sighting is a first for Kenya, albino buffaloes have been spotted in several other countries.

'I question whether this is an "albino." It look's similarly colored like a champagne lion.'

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