How is this for an unusual elephant sighting? The photos below were taken during a Wild Card member’s recent stay in the Kruger National Park. You won’t believe what he saw!

On 5 January 2015, David Johnson was travelling between Tshokwane and Satara when he spotted a herd of elephants on the move about 150m away from the road.

“I soon spotted what appeared to be a light pink or brown animal running with the herd. At first, I thought it to be an antelope of some sort but when I looked through the binoculars I discovered it was actually a young elephant!

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“None of the other elephants were anything but a ‘normal elephant grey’ colour. However, upon further study and examination of the photos I had taken, I wondered if the calf was perhaps an albino elephant?

3 AlbinoElephantl-DaveJohnson-Mar2015

“I showed the photos to the rangers at Satara rest camp and was told that they had never seen such an elephant before. I would be very interested to know just how rare this condition is among elephants, particularly those in Kruger Park – if it is indeed an albino.”

Wild magazine editor Romi Boom took one look at the photos and knew she needed to dig deeper. She consulted an elephant expert who is also the chair of conservation ecology at the University of Pretoria, Professor Rudi van Aarde.

Van Aarde said he’d never seen an albino elephant before and discolouration was more likely attributable to a sand or mud bath. However, he also said that if Dave’s photos were a true example of a pigmentation abnormality, it was an extraordinary sighting!