On Sunday 2nd of August 2015, the team comprising the latest Wildlife Conservation Experience went to the Kruger National Park for a day trip. One of the sightings they enjoyed was of a herd of impala, casually grazing. This on its own is nothing unusual, however within this herd was a rare and strange individual impala.
Impalas are reddish/ fawn in colour with a paler coloured underside. But this specific impala was very light in colour, especially its bottom half. It also had bright blue eyes. The initial thought was that it must be an albino.
Albinism includes a group of inherited disorders that are characterised by little to no production of the pigment melanin. The type and amount of melanin your body produces determines the colour of your skin, hair and eyes.
However, after doing some research we discovered a condition called Leucism. Leucism occurs where there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale or patchy colouration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticles (but not the eyes). Unlike albinism, this is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, and not just melanin. This is the opposite of Melanism; which is a development of the dark-coloured pigment melanin in the skin or its appendages.
Whenever visiting any of our national parks, be sure to be on the lookout for the smaller animals too. You might just discover something completely new, and out of the ordinary!