Genetic Defects in African Animals

There is no doubt that nature is amazing, animals use their coloring to hide from predators and some animals like leopards even blend in to their surrounding to hunt successfully. Sometimes a defect can happen, this is caused by genetic defects.

Albinism is caused by a lack of pigmentation or colour in an animal, making the animal pale or white in appearance.

In the last couple of years a white impala has been spotted in the Kruger National Park as well as a white squirrel.

Genetic Defects in African Animals
Photo by Simone Swiel

In the case of albinism, the animal will have pink or light eye colour and nails. If you spot an animal that is white, but it has dark eye colour, it’s a case of Leucism where there’s a partial loss of pigmentation.

Genetic Defects in African Animals
Albino squirrel Photo by Debbie Carr Donald at Letaba Camp

The most well known “white” animals in Africa are of course white lions, but white lions are not albino, their white colour is caused by a recessive gene known as Leucism. The Timbavati a Game Reserve neighboring the Kruger National park is well-known for having a small population of wild white lions, a male white lion can also be seen in the Satara region of the Kruger National Park, here is a video of him taken recently.

In 2016-2017 someone was lucky enough to spot an albino elephant in the northern section of the Kruger National Park, the small calf was pink in colour.

Genetic Defects in African Animals
Photo by Nicki Coertze

Melanism is the opposite of albanism, it occurs when there is a increased production of melanin. Therefore the animal tends to be darker or totally black in colour.

The most well known example of melanism is the black panther, they are not their own species but simply the melanism version of a leopard.

Genetic Defects in African Animals
Image Credit: Steelburg News

On the 12th of March, 2013 a large mature African Black Leopard was seen on the R532, no more than 10km from Sabie, in Mapumalanga, that is the only sightings of a wild black leopard recorded.

There are two types of cheetah you might come across with genetic defect, one is the king cheetah.
The king cheetah has a rare fur pattern mutation, the pattern is caused by a recessive gene inherited from both parents.
King cheetahs used to be spotted in the Kruger but none have been seen in the last 30-40 years.

Genetic Defects in African Animals

The second type of cheetah with a rare fur pattern is a lesser-spotted cheetah, one was spotted 6 years ago in Kenya, and the cheetah has no spots.

Genetic Defects in African Animals
Image Credit: Guy Combes

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