March 21, 2009

Pink elephant photographed in Botswana

A wildlife photographer got footage of a pink elephant calf with a herd of about 80 elephants in Botswana.

Experts told the British Broadcasting Corp. the calf is probably an albino and it risks harm to its skin, and possible blindness, from exposure to intense sunlight.

Mike Holding saw the calf in the Okavango Delta while filming footage for a BBC program.

We only saw it for a couple of minutes as the herd crossed the river, he said. This was a really exciting moment for everyone in camp. We knew it was a rare sighting -- no one could believe their eyes.

Mike Chase, head of Elephants Without Borders, said albinism is more common among Asian elephants than those in Africa.

Surviving this very rare phenomenon is very difficult in the harsh African bush, he said. The glaring sun may cause blindness and skin problems.

The calf appears from the footage to be adapting to its albinism, Chase said, by keeping in the shade of its mother. He suggested the delta, with its mud and large trees, provides what an adaptable elephant calf would need for protection.