Nicki Coertze, a 58-year old visitor to the Kruger national park in South Africa, caught sight of a rare beauty. A baby elephant with white skin and pink ears.
Amidst a herd of elephants, the cute little thing was spotted drinking from a watering hole alongside its mother. Its color or lack of it made him stand out from its older greyish fellows.
In Africa, albino elephants are especially rare. This is because they often die young due to skin issues and blindness, especially as they have no natural protection from the harsh sun.
Albino elephants often have not just skin without skin pigment, melanin but also un-pigmented pink eyes and white skin with no markings. They are also known to have weak eyesight.
There is no confirmation though as to if this baby elephant is truly an albino or just a white elephant, another rarity. The images captured of him show that his eyes are partially closed, which may indicate that he is a true albino trying to shield his sensitive eyes from the sun.
A specialist in large herbivores at the park, Dr. Ian Whyte said that albinos are more common than people think but are considered rare because they survive for a very short period of time. No wonder Nicki Coertze was shocked at catching one on camera.
Though this baby elephant is an appreciated sight for humans, its lack of color makes it an easy target for predators. It not only stands out but is weak along with other physical disadvantages like poor eyesight. Unlike other animals who blend in with their habitat, this baby albino elephant stands out like the sun in a clear blue sky.
Nicki Coertze did not notice the herd treating the baby elephant any different from themselves. He was treated just like any other member of the herd. He stayed close to his mother and the rest of his family which could very well serve as a protection for him.
These rare sights hold different levels of appeal and significance in different places. In some places like Thailand, they are viewed as sacred. The Hindus view them as belonging to one of their gods, Airavata.
In other places like Myanmar, it is viewed as a symbol of power. Some prominent men pride themselves on ownership of albino elephants and collect as many as they can.
For the majority, albino elephants are just a rare sight to behold and marvel.