They say a leopard cannot change its spots, next to that they are really rosettes, they kind of can. In rare cases animals, like humans, can develop pigmentation disorders that change their outward appearance. It is caused when the parents both carry a recessive gene that expresses itself in their offspring. So, in the case of leopards, there are individuals that are completely black and even (in extremely rare cases) strawberry colored.
From time to time, while out on a safari we see animals that differ in appearance from the rest of the group, they can be darker (melanistic) or lighter (leucistic) in color than their counterparts. In my time as a guide I have seen melanistic Gabar Goshawk, leucistic Baboon, white Lions and a melanistic Giraffe bull amongst others. But in truth it is quite rare to see, as these individuals do stand out and might be more prone to predation.
Recently while out on an afternoon Jacopo, Alessia and I went out to the hippo pool to enjoy our sundowners, as luck would have it there was also a troupe of Yellow Baboons on the opposite bank getting ready for the night. As we got back to the vehicle I heard a low rumble coming towards us, these were likely buffalo coming to the springs to drink. But what made them run? As we found the herd they looked like nothing was wrong and were slowly moving towards the water, leaving us with a bit of an anti-climactic feeling, we were hoping for lions on their tails. We then heard the alarm calls of some guinea-fowl lower down in the forest near the Msini River itself and of course we went to investigate. As we drove down we found the birds to our left, still in a bit of a panic and as I looked around I found the source of all the panic, a young male leopard resting in a large Sausage Tree on the banks of the river. We stayed with him until he got up and disappeared into the undergrowth and listened to the various alarm calls by small birds and mammals that betrayed his general direction through the forest.
After that great sighting of a leopard, the second one for Jacopo and Alessia, we continued slowly back to camp only to be stopped by another herd of buffalo just outside the forest. We took some time to check this herd out as they were nice in the open and quite relaxed. As the buffalo were milling around we noticed an abnormality amongst them, a white buffalo. I had never heard of this before and got quite excited. I took quite some photos myself and encouraged Jacopo and Alessia to do the same, they might win the photo-competition with a good shot of this rarity. Eventually it got too dark and we had to start heading home for a couple of celebratory drinks.
Leucism is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin.