A pink hippo has been spotted in Kenya by two British brothers and nature photographers, Will and Matt Burrard-Lucas, during a visit to the Maasai Mara. They had visited the reserve to get a piece of the world-famous wildebeest migration. They not only captured stunning images of this event heralded by many as the 8th world wonder, they also bagged in a rare sighting.
Pink hippos are hard to come by. There have been some sightings in Uganda but this was the first time one was seen and captured on camera in Kenya. According to the brothers, this one was young, being smaller than the others and preferring to stay closer to its mother.
The colour in pink hippos is not due to albinism as many may think. It is actually brought about by a condition called Leucism. Leucism is characterised by reduced pigmentation in animals and humans. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in all types of skin pigment, not just melanin.
Leucistic Hippos frequently become outcasts, rejected by their conventionally coloured peers and hence their survival rate is very low. The problem is compounded by the fact that their pink colour makes them easy to spot hence they become an easy target for prey.
On the day the Burrard brothers spotted the pink little one enjoying a bath in the Mara River, they were of a different opinion as to its survivability. It seemed to get along with the other ‘normal’ hippos pretty well and was having a time of its life!
The whole episode took about 10 minutes, they said later when they got back home to the UK. That is what makes the wild so exciting. One moment you may be lazing around a picnic and suddenly an event of a lifetime unfolds before your eyes and the rest, as they say, is history.
Such was the case with the two photographers who were in the middle of their breakfast picnic when they saw this mound of pink emerge from the water and remembered an earlier conversation with their guide who had hinted on growing rumours of a pink hippo sighting around the Mara – 10 minutes is all they needed to become famous in the wild!