Behold! A buffalo calf with multiple colours

Friday, November 18th, 2022 04:00 | By
Behold! A buffalo calf with multiple colours
The multi-coloured buffalo calf spotted in the Maasai Mara, one of Mother Nature’s unusual births. PD/courtesy

Another rare sighting of a buffalo calf with different ‘colour streaks’ — white and reddish like a Friesian cow, probably caused by mutation — has amazed wildlife lovers in Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

Lenny Koshal, a tour guide in the reserve who first witnessed the animal, says he saw the shy calf spotting red and white colours among a herd of buffaloes near Sand River, at the border of the Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.

Koshal says he was on a game drive on Wednesday afternoon when he spotted the three-month-old calf that looked like a Friesian cow in the middle of buffaloes.

Buffaloes are generally black.

He posted photos of the calf in his social media platform and they went viral, with wildlife enthusiasts naming the calf ‘Koshal’ after the tour guide. But most of them could not explain the genetic condition, with wide debate raging about it.

Kotikash Denis replied on Koshal’s Facebook post: “Not an albino, but a colour trait caused by gene mutation since albinism is the result of cells that can’t produce melanin, the pigment needed to colour the skin, scales, eyes and hair,”

Mehdi Morad reacted: “Are we sure it is not a cow, trying to re-wild itself?

Wildlife specialist Felix Migoya said the buffalo calf was suffering from Luicism — a condition that results in “partial loss of pigmentation, causing white, pale, or patchy colouration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticles, but not the eyes.”

The buffalo calf joins a rare collection of unusual sightings witnessed in Kenya.

In 2009, rangers in Kenya’s Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha spotted an albino buffalo, the first of its kind recorded in the wildlife-rich Kenya.

Just across the border in Tanzania, a rare white buffalo drew the attention of hundreds of tourists after being sighted in Tarangire National Park in May this year.

Other unusual sightings include a polka-dot zebra (a melanistic foal) spotted in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in 2019, and rare albino animals in the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.

It is unusual for such wildlife to survive for long as their distinctive colouration gives them away easily to predators.

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