PHETCHABURI – Natural Resources and Environment Ministry believe they have possibly found a rare albino elephant in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi Province.
The baby was pictured drinking from a stream in Kaeng Krachan National Park with a herd of common Asian elephants.
Experts believe the animal is an albino as its trunk is pink from the sun and has very fair skin.
Albino elephants normally have a pink hue and are rarely completely white, as they have little fur.
Their eyelashes and toenails are also fairer than normal elephants.
The find holds particular significance in Thailand where white elephants are revered as sacred.
According to ancient tradition, white elephants are gifted to the King and Thailand’s current monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej owns ten.
Although the find has caused excitement among park officials, there are concerns that it will become a target for poachers.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is now expected to decide whether to capture the elephant or leave it in the park.
Chote Trachoo, ministry permanent secretary, was quoted by Thai news website The Nation as saying it will be ‘an important decision’ they will have to make.
The exact number of white elephants in the world is not known but there are thought to be thousands in Asia,
Albino African elephants are far less common than their Asian cousins.
When one was spotted in Botswana in 2007, experts said it was only the third they had heard of in southern Africa.
Albino elephants are seen as a huge prize for poachers because of their rarity and how regarded they are in many Asian countries including Laos and Myanmar.
White elephants are revered because of their key part in the tales of the birth of Buddha.
Buddha’s mother dreamed that a white elephant gave her a sacred lotus flower before she gave birth.
They are seen to bring good or bad omens to rulers and a monarch in possession of a white elephant is seen to be a just and fair ruler.
However, the death of an albino elephant can be seen as a sign of disaster.
They have traditionally been given as gifts to a monarch’s friends and allies, who must be wealthy because of the level of care that is expected to be given to the sacred animals.