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Wildlife experts dismiss white elephant talk

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th October 2011 01:00 AM

WILDLIFE experts believe the white elephants reportedly seen in Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park are normal specie.

WILDLIFE experts believe the white elephants reportedly seen in Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park are normal specie.

By Gerald Tenywa

WILDLIFE experts believe the white elephants reportedly seen in Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park are normal specie.

“What has been seen in Queen is not a new species of elephants at all. I have looked at the photographs closely and do not see anything special. The colour of the skin that appears pale or grey (not white) may be due to the sandy and clay areas where the elephants wallow from," Charles Tumwesigye, the acting Chief Conservation area Manager said yesterday.  

"If the same elephants wallowed in black soil mud, they would definitely appear darker or reddish if they wallowed in murram soil.  Let nobody be deceived that there are white elephants. This condition is not permanent and when it rains or when they wallow in water, that pale colour will be no more,” Tumwesigye added. 

Isasha areas around Lake Edward  have very fine clay soils, light grey in colour.

The white elephant story was "exclusively" revealed to The New Vision by Dr. Andrew Seguya, the executive director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).  He said the report and photographs had been submitted by one  Henry Paul Mbaguta, who runs a Safari Lodge  near the park.

The New Vision Wednesday published Mbaguta’s narrative  in a story entitled, “White elephants seen in Queen.”  In a detailed account Mbaguta said  his group  On October 1st had  sighted three white elephants about 20 kilometers from Lake Edward. 

Mbaguta said it was raining when his group encountered the three white elephants and the shade of white was uniformly spread over their bodies. Seguya said that by Tuesday, UWA was yet to send a verification team.

Other  game enthusiasts  who reported  seeing light colored elephants in the same park, attributed this to the light colored soil that tends to change the elephant skin to appear white.

“I have seen elephants spread soil all over their bodies, using the trunk (I think the "dusting" helps with parasite control), and at the end of the process, they have a light grey to almost white color," one said.

“I think those particular elephants sighted had dusted themselves to a light color,” said one Vikta Zike.  “When the ground is red, as in some parts of Kazinga, then the elephants end up having reddish-brown tinge,” observed Zike who in a text message said he had lived in Ishasha for three years.

Seguya on Tuesday  said white elephants are only known to exist in Asia.

Wildlife experts dismiss white elephant talk

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