Albino buffalo spotted in Hellsgate

April 24, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIVASHA, Kenya, Apr 24 – Rangers in Kenya’s Hellsgate National Park have spotted an albino buffalo, the first of its kind ever recorded in the wildlife rich country, park officials said Friday.

"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," said Nelly Palmeris, senior warden at Hellsgate.

The three-month-old calf, spotted within a large herd, has a very light brown coat, and is easily distinguished from other buffalos.

Its lighter colour will make it a more noticeable target for predators, park officials said.

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

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

She added that rangers have enhanced security around the herd to ensure the Maasai do not attack the unique mammal.

The calf was not spotted for months after its birth because its herd was largely confined to obscure, shaded areas to mitigate against recent drought conditions.

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



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