The Hells Gate albino spectacle

June 8, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIVASHA, Kenya, Jun 8 – The Hells Gate National Park is a beehive of activity. Reason, an albino buffalo was spotted in this park about six weeks ago.

Tourists from every part of the world are coming in large numbers every day to see this wonder. This is the first time it has happened in Kenya which has made many people curious and excited to see this new phenomenon.

“The albino buffalo has been a major attraction especially to our visitors who have been coming mainly from overseas to just see it,” says Nelly Palmeris, Senior Warden at the park.

“It is a resident in the park and we have been citing it literally everyday between 4p.m and 6p.m,” she says. “It has brought in a lot of visitors and interest.”

The 68 Km² park receives about 100,000 visitors annually but expects to surpass that number this year.

Joseph Edebe, Senior Scientist in charge of Central Rift region explains that albinism in animals is also caused by a recessive gene that affects skin colour.

“Some of the people around here say that having an albino buffalo could be a curse so it can be killed but we are taking measures to ensure its safety,” Mr Edebe says.

He says the albinism is similar to that in human beings. “We also have the other extreme where instead of the animal being very light it appears very dark.”

Ms Palmeris on the other hand says the rare buffalo is coping well with the other animals but the KWS team is watching to ensure its safety and that it is also given a chance to live just like a normal buffalo.

“It is coping well because it is well integrated into the family. We’ve not had instances where we have felt that it has been kicked out by the family so we think it’s well guarded by the family,” she said.

She says they will consider taking it to an orphanage incase they feel it is being segregated by the family.

“We have an orphanage to take care of such cases but we still want it to stay in the natural wild just like the other buffalos,” she adds.

The senior Warden says they have had a lot of enquiries especially from tourists who despite their first itinerary not being scheduled to visit hells gate have now added it.

“Once they have heard the news (about the albino buffalo) they have added Hells Gate as part of the itinerary. So we know that it has brought people who were not initially coming here,” she says.


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