Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 17:37 UK

Rare albino buffalo seen in Kenya

Albino buffalo
The calf is to be tracked for its safety as albinism is considered a bad omen

An albino buffalo has been spotted in Kenya for the first time, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says.

The six-month-old animal was sighted in Hellsgate National Park in the country's Rift Valley.

Unlike normal buffalos that are dark brown in appearance, the albino buffalo is almost beige and easily stands out from the rest of the herd.

There are concerns about the animal's vulnerability to predators and some local people see it as a bad omen.

Senior park warden Nelly Palmeris told the BBC its colouring made the buffalo more vulnerable to attack by predators in the wild.

She also said some communities around the park consider albinism to be a bad omen, which could endanger the calf further.

"We are just coming from a bad drought and the Maasai might associate the famine with this buffalo and kill it," she told the AFP news agency.

To protect the buffalo, KWS is conducting an awareness campaign among the locals and is also tracking the rare animal.

The calf was not noticed at first as the herd was in a dense part of the park when it was born.

Dr Charles Musyoki, a senior wildlife official, told the BBC that albino animals wre very rare and in the past only an albino zebra had been spotted in a Kenyan park.

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