Rare leucitic white lion cub spotted in South Africa
By Michael Scott
These heart-warming images show an incredibly rare leucitic white lioncub playing in the wild.
Taken by wildlife photographer Lyle McCabe in Kruger National Park, the snaps show the young lioncub, which appears completely white but is not albino, playing with its siblings while its doting mother looks on.
Lyle said the cub had been passed a leucitic gene by both parents – resulting in it having a partial loss of pigmentation in its fur.
The 30-year-old said: “I was absolutely mind blown with this sighting.
“We had known the cubs had been born about a month before but as per company protocol we had moved away from the area for walking, tracking and driving off-road in order to ensure the safety of the animals.
“I arrived at the spot and waited about 10 minutes before we saw movement in the thicket, and out came the mother with a tawny youngster in her mouth followed closely behind by the pale youngster.
“My family and friends have been overwhelmed by what I saw. The other guides I work with felt a mixture of excitement and deep jealousy.”
Despite the cub’s appearance, Lyle says it was treated no differently to its siblings – but it may face problems in future.
Lyle added that he was moved by the experience.
He said: “We are all hopeful that all of the cubs will make it past the critical two-year mark which will increase their percentage of survival greatly.
“Hopefully we will have many more sightings of this very rare genetic change.
“The road ahead will be a tough one for all the cubs but especially for this bright white youngster.
“He will not only make things hard on himself when it comes to hunting in his white coat, but there is also the chance that he may hinder his siblings’ chances of survival by giving their position away, either at the den sight or hunting alongside the rest of the pride.”