From MARC NKWAME recently in Mpanda, 18th December 2010 @ 12:00, Total Comments: 0, Hits: 197 Authorities at Katavi National Park in Mpanda District are intrigued by periodical appearances of 'white giraffes.' "Their physique is similar to other giraffes except that the new comers have spot snow-white colour. They are also not seen frequently and we estimate that there could be about three of them in the park," said a conservator Mr David Kadomo. This development comes a few weeks after another peculiar animal was spotted by tourists in Serengeti National Park. The 'white giraffes' of Katavi, according to the park officials rarely mix with the others and tend to run away quickly when people or their cars, approach them. 'It is the local people who occasionally spot the white giraffes. Tourists, researchers and even park wardens are not that lucky," said Mr Elisa Manase, the Katavi Park Ecologist. He explained that the animals have been appearing at different areas in the wilderness for quite sometimes now. "There were times when we wanted to deploy researchers to study them, but it became apparent that it was almost impossible to get near the white giraffes and could take months before spotting any though they do exist in Katavi," said the conservator. According to Manase, the Park management has decided not to speak much about the 'white giraffes' because if word goes around, then tourists would start demanding to be taken to see the strange animals while their sighting is never guaranteed. "Besides, we don't exactly believe that the white giraffes could be different species from the ordinary towering mammals, because there is a possibility that they are just 'albino' giraffes with skin disorders," the ecologist observed. Mr Manase is the only person who managed to take a photo of one of the suspected white giraffe from a distance, though the pictures did not come out very well. The locals on the other hand treat the sightings of the 'white giraffes' with reverence, respect and fear, believing that the strangely coloured animals were incarnations of their dead ancestors. "Even our forefathers treated 'white giraffes' with great respect, in fact we are not even supposed to talk about them because they are as human as we are," said an old man at Mpanda who did not feel comfortable to reveal his name either. Covering 4,471 square-kilometres, Katavi is the country's third largest National Park after Ruaha and Serengeti, with its flagship wildlife species being the giant hippopotamus found in almost all parts of the landscape dotted with pools, rivers and seasonal lakes. "Katavi has over 5,000 hippos, the highest number to be found in any single park," stated the tourist-conservator Mr Kadomo.