The old idiom “white elephant” connotes of an expensive item that is exasperating or futile. The contemporary usage of the term “white elephant” refers to an exceptionally expensive building project that falls short in delivering on its functions or very costly to maintain.
However, this article mainly concentrates literally on “white elephants” which is a rare phenomenon in the animal world.
Generally, most of us know elephants that are entirely black and huge. Nevertheless, there is this kind of elephants who don’t resemble the ordinary appearance of an elephant. They appear to be white, and they are often called white elephants or albino elephants.
For instance, most of us have heard of white elephants just only through fairy tales or from legendary stories in the past. But it’s wonderful that these amazing, rare species of elephants do exist in the world. They are rare but not a distinct species.
In most cases 1 out of 10000 elephant births, occurs a white elephant birth. It estimates that there might be for about 70 white elephants in the world out of the total population of elephants. It’s really interesting, the fact that these white elephants are highly venerated and regarded as sacred in some countries of the world.
Unique features of white elephants.
Although they are known as white elephants, their complexion composed of a reddish-brown or a pinkish color. Also, their eyelashes and toenails are also appearing to be fair.
Apart from these differences in physical appearance, they have other differences as well. That is they receive this unusual color due to the genetic anomalies. So this rare state occurs when the elephant’s body fails to produce melanin, the pigment that produces hair, skin and eye’s color. But some elephants under this category are grey in color whereas some elephants are used to get themselves plated with mud which portrays them as white after applying it all over the body.
Land of white elephants.
Thailand is named as the land of white elephants due to the high regard given for the white elephants in this country. In Thailand, white elephants are considered as sacred. They regard white elephants as a sign of glory and prosperity according to the Brahmanic beliefs.
Above all, the white elephants are a part of the king’s majesty in Thailand. So under these circumstances, white elephants in Thailand are no more a part of nature but a part of the monarchy. All the white elephants in Thailand live under captivity amidst the venerations of its fellow citizens and the king.
Further, the white elephants resemble the royal power. The king’s status is determined by the number of elephants under his ownership. Owning a large number of white elephants gives a high recognition and reputation to the king. Most importantly, great supervision and protection are given for white elephants as they consider white elephants as the most sacred animal according to the beliefs prevailing in their culture.
White elephants in Myanmar.
In Myanmar also people give great regard for white elephants. They pay this much regard due to their belief that white elephants bring stability, peace, and prosperity to the state.
According to the records, Myanmar has eight white elephants in captivity and five of them are in Nay Pyi Taw zoo and three in Yagon zoo.
White elephants in Africa.
African elephants are famous for mud bath which they get in order to get rid of the blazing heat. They are used to cover their body with dry white calcite sand and white clay which displays them as white elephants. This mud cools off their body and brings them comfort under the blazing heat. In addition, most of the elephants assemble in any place where they can find moisture, wallowing in and splashing themselves with mud and water, which brings them an immense pleasure beneath the blazing hot sun.
Finally, when this mud dries, it remains caked in the white earth. This look gave them the name “great white ghosts”. They appear as if they are painted with white emulsion. Instead of this, real albino elephants also found in Africa. But most of the white elephants in Africa face the challenge of surviving under the blazing sun as it causes them vision problems and skin problems. Most of the time, they get blind due to the excessive heat of the sun.
However, the reports declare that the elephants are an intelligent set of animals and as a result, now they are getting adapted to these heat issues tactically. That is by finding shade under trees when it is so hot, and the little albino calves are walking beneath their adult elephants which becomes them a shade.
White elephants in Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka, a white elephant has been detected roaming in Ruhunu National Park. It has appeared to be around 11 years old. This white elephant has been roaming on with a herd consisting of around 17 adult females and youngsters.
The Sri Lankan researchers consider this as a great opportunity for them to conduct researches on these rare animals. So they have planned new tactics and ways to protect and conserve Sri Lankan elephants.
Further, there have been unofficial records on the sighting of a white elephant in the same region seven years back. But its existence was never confirmed.