From: Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM, More from this Affiliate
Published November 29, 2010 08:57 AM

Hairy enigma of the Serengeti photographed again

A mysterious—and extremely hairy—animal has been photographed again in the Serengeti. Robert Berntsen, a frequent traveler to East Africa, photographed the creature, almost certainly a gazelle, in Kenya's Masai Mara Reserve. It was earlier photographed by Paolo Torchio in the same reserve.


"The driver’s first comment was if this was a young wildebeest left behind, but as we closed in on it obviously it wasn’t the case," Berntsen told "Could it be a hybrid of some kind or perhaps a mutation? We could not conclude but after several minutes of just observing and discussing I eventually woke up, grabbed my camera and made a few shots."

According to Berntsen, the animal was near a group of Thomson's gazelles, though on the "outskirts". After discussion, Berntsen and his traveling partners decided that most likely the animal was a "mutant Thomson's gazelle, probably a young male." However, he says "this explanation was just concluded on what we had seen while eliminating other explanations we found less probable."

After watching the animal for ten minutes Berntsen describes its unique features as such: "its head in particular had a lot of dark long hair which in a way hided the true form of its head and mouth. All my pictures are showing the animal from its left side, but observing the head from the front it seems to be significantly broader than with a normal gazelle. In addition I had the impression that it had an undershot jaw. Perhaps was this impression caused by the thickness of the lower lips or the tissue in the chin, or the general prominence of the cheeks and the chin?"

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