Check Out This Rare Pink Elephant Calf
Field guide Timothy Jansen Van Vuuren who was guiding a tourist group on safari in South Africa’s MalaMala captured footage of a tiny pink elephant calf. The calf which is champagne-pink in colour is thought to be between two or three weeks old at the time the footage was shot. If you watch the video you will see the calf is the smallest in the her and is being carefully protected by the adults. It is not possible to tell from the footage whether the calf is an albino or its skin pigmentation is caused by another genetic condition known as leucism.
Albinism is the product of the lack of any melanin which is the group of natural pigments that is why skin has colour. Albino animals do not only have pinkish skin but their eyes are also very pale, either pink or red as a result of the blood flow. In contrast leucism is only a partial loss of pigmentation and has no effect on the eyes. Regardless of the condition affecting this calf, it faces a difficult life.
The conditions put animals at great risk
Animals with this colouring make them stand out in their natural habitat which means they are at greater risk from predators. They are also very sensitive to light and there are likely to be other health conditions associated with the genetic mutations. All of this does not mean the calf will not survive into adulthood. There have been sightings of adult pale animals from species including dolphins and humpback whales, suggesting that pale individuals can beat the odds. In fact, one pale elephant lived to the age of at least five.
Uncommon amongst African elephants
Albinism is quite common amongst Asian elephants, but it is much rarer in the larger African elephants with only a handful of cases ever having been recorded. In the Greater Kruger Park, the last known sighting dates back to 2016 when a calf of similar age was spotted. In Botswana and albino calf was photographed by the BBC in 2009 and showed no indication that it felt great discomfort from the harsh African sun.