By Danny Baggott @Dan_Baggie
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Videographer / director: Su Elliot
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: Marcus Cooper
The baboon suffers from leucism - a condition that does not affect an animal’s health, but instead creates white, pale or patchy skin colours through the partial loss of pigmentation.
Travel photographer Su Elliot stumbled across the beautifully unique creature, who she’s fondly named Albo, in June this year when filming at the Marula Lodge National Park in Zambia.
Su said: “I was on a game drive and he stood out from the crowd! Normally I don’t really give baboons a second glance, but Albo stood out like a sore thumb and is instantly recognisable.
“I’ve done many game drives in the park over the years so something different immediately gets my attention.”
People often confuse leucism with albinism because of the white skin tone but the major difference is that leucism does not affect the animal’s eyes.
“He isn’t an albino. Albinism is an absence of melanin which gives colour to hair and eyes while leucism is a partial or whole loss of pigmentation,” Su added.
“Their hair can darken with age and Albo appears to have normal eyes.”
The abnormal colouring of baby Albo makes him a target for boisterous adult baboons and other predators - so his mother always tries her best to keep a very close eye on him.
Su said: “The mum is extremely protective, as soon as you get anywhere near for better photos, she grabs him and moves him away.
“She doesn’t allow him far away from her like the other mums do. There is no rejection in this case. It may be because he’s so vulnerable and is likely to be killed by other baboons.
“But his behaviour is no different to that of other baby baboons. He didn’t seem to have a problem with the other youngsters and played happily with them.”
Baboons tend to get darker with age and so only time will tell if Albo loses his whiteness.
“South Luangwa gives me a wildlife fix every year. It really is one of the best parks in Africa,” Su said.
“I regularly visit the area the troop are in but have only seen Albo twice so far. I shall keep trying.”