Phantom of Etosha
Issue 4 (May 2009) On a morning game drive in the Okondeka region of Etosha, an eerie snow-white ghost appeared out the bush – an albino black-backed jackal.

 

Guests of Wilderness Safari’s Ongava Lodge watched as he moved out onto Etosha pan and ‘disappeared’, perfectly camouflaged against the white ground.


This posed the fascinating question: Had albinism actually benefitted this animal? It is generally accepted that animals with this condition do not survive long as they are so conspicuous to predators. Not so this jackal, who was “fit, fat and thriving,” according to guide Kim Nixon.


Albinism is the complete absence of pigmentation due to inability to produce melanin. An albino’s eyes are pink as a result of blood vessels showing through in the absence of darker colours. Albinism is normally caused by a genetic mutation that can be inherited if both parents have the albino gene.

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