BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 11:20 GMT
'Ghost-like' white stag spotted
White stag. (Pic: John Muir Trust)
The stag has been observed by Fran Lockhart since last year

A rare white stag has been observed on the west coast of the Highlands.

The animal has been seen with other red deer by a member of the John Muir Trust, which has kept its location a secret to protect it from poachers.

The killing of a white stag on the Devon and Cornwall border last year sparked outrage.

Fran Lockhart, partnership manager for the trust, caught the young Highland deer on camera. She described it as "ghost-like".

She said: "I am thrilled to know that there is a white stag roaming free out there in the Scottish Highlands and that I was privileged enough to be able to spend an hour observing him.

"We will be watching this animal with interest, particularly as he will be reaching his full potential in the next couple of years."

The trust said white deer were potent figures in the mythology of many cultures.

Celts considered them to be messengers from the otherworld.

They are closely identified with unicorns and their appearance is said to herald some profound change in the lives of those who encounter them.

Found headless

White deer are often mistakenly thought to be albinos.

The trust said their unusual appearance was caused by leucism, a rare genetic pattern that causes a reduction in the pigment in the animal's hair and skin.

Unlike albinos who characteristically have red eyes, deer with leucism have normal colouring in their eyes.

The stag killed in England last year was found headless after being shot by a poacher.

Farmers and gamekeepers had kept quiet about the stag's whereabouts for years in an attempt to protect him.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific