And White Lion!

Now that the fences are down. we had a visit from a very special pride of lions from the Timbavati area – the pride includes a white lion. This unusual occurrence is often referred to as an albino but the correct term for them is leucism. True Albinos have no colour pigmentation whatsoever, with even their irises taking on a reddish colour. Leucism on the other hand is a recessive gene that results in a partial loss of pigmentation (hence the light colour) but with some of the original pigmentation still being retained. In white lions this is most evident behind the ears and on the tip of the tail which appear to be a brownish colour, when the original colour would have been black. White lions were first discovered and made famous in the early 1970’s in the Timbavati area and are rare even today. There were rumours of their being sighted as early as the 1930’s and they were regarded as divine by locals. Today they are mostly found in zoos and circuses but there are a few still occurring naturally in the wild in the Timbavati area and in the Nwanetsi area of the Kruger National Park – which means that the gene still occurs in the wild population. The gene does not appear to have too much of a disadvantage for the lions concerned as they are still surviving in the wild and have also been reintroduced into their natural areas where they survive without human intervention. The lioness we saw in this pride was certainly doing very well – we even saw her attempting to hunt impalas. For us seeing this magnificent animal in the wild doing well is spectacular. Hopefully she will visit us more often.