Fabulous creature - one of the very rare White Lions, only a few hundred left in the world. The scars on his nose tell a few Tales! This picture was taken by my partner Allan during a visit we made to South Africa to work on a charity project.
For centuries rumors of mysterious white lions (Panthera leo krugeri) had been circulating in South Africa. Legend said the white pelage represented the good to be found in all creatures.
Strong claims of sightings started to surface in 1928. Scattered reports continued over the next 47 years, until confirmation of the colouration came in 1975 when a litter containing two white cubs was seen at Timbavati Game Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park.
The discovery came as researcher and conservationist Chris McBride was studying lions at Timbavati.
In October, his elder sister and her son visited. While Chris lay in bed sick and feeling sorry for himself, they went out alone with a tracker for the day and spotted lioness 'Tabby' at a kill. With her were three new cubs, one tawny, and two which were as white as polar bears. They were roughly two weeks old.
The genetic combination required to bring about the white colouring is now considered to have been virtually eliminated in the wild population
The Latin name of Panthera leo krugeri is not limited to white lions. It applies to all South African lion subspecies; the prides of which are mostly located in Kruger National Park and nearby game reserves.
The white lion is occasionally found in wildlife reserves in South Africa and is a rare color mutation of the Kruger subspecies of lion (Panthera leo krugeri). It has been perpetuated by selective breeding in zoos around the world. White lions are not a separate subspecies and they have never been common in the wild. Regarded as divine by locals, white lions first came to public attention in the 1970s in Chris McBride's book The White Lions of Timbavati. White cubs occasionally turn up among tawny lions in the Timbavati and Kruger National Park regions. Because the gene is recessive and is masked by the normal tawny colour, white lions remain rare in the wild and only occur when two lions carrying the mutant gene are mated together. The greatest population of white lions is in zoos where they are deliberately bred for color. The population of the white lion is unknown but the most recent count was in 2004 and 300 were alive.
White lions are not albino lions. Instead, the white color is caused by a recessive gene known as chinchilla or color inhibitor. They vary from blonde through to near white some can also be red. This coloration gives white lions a distinct disadvantage in nature because they are highly visible. This gives them away to their prey and makes them an attractive target for hunters.