rare white giraffe
Charles Foley  /  Wildlife Conservation Society
Rare white giraffe photographed in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park.
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updated 9/8/2005 9:48:13 PM ET 2005-09-09T01:48:13

A researcher in Africa has finally spotted the rare white giraffe that he's been seeking for twelve years, and he's got a photograph to prove it.

Charles Foley, a Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) researcher, first heard rumors of the white giraffe in 1993 when he was working in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park doing research on savanna elephants.

Intrigued, Foley set out to find the animal, but by the next year, the sightings had stopped coming in.

"I assumed it had died, either at the hand of man or beast," he said. "I never stopped looking though."

Foley's persistence paid off this summer. While conducting a routine aerial survey of a group of the park's elephants, he spotted a white speck in the distance.

"I looked ... blinked ... looked again ... and it was still there," Foley said.

Foley told his pilot to make another pass over the spot and managed to snap a photograph of the white giraffe just as they flew over the trees.

"The proof is there to see — a mostly white giraffe with small dark blotches on its body," Foley said. "Only the bottom half of its legs were the more traditional brown color."

Foley doubts the giraffe he photographed is the same giraffe sighted in 1993, and that it is probably not a pure albino animal. Albino animals lack the pigments that give their skin color.

Rather, Foley thinks the giraffe was probably just lighter than normal.

© 2012 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.

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