The White Goral of Binsar

Albinism in biology is described as the “Congenital absence of any pigmentation or coloration in a person, animal or plant, resulting in white hair and pink eyes in mammals.” Mammals have special cells called melanocytes which are responsible for skin colour. Absence of melanocytes in the body results in a whitish appearance.

I had heard from a few village folks about the sighting of a white goral  (Himalayan Goral or Mountain Goat) in the forests in the last few weeks. I was, naturally, curious to see this “white” or albino goral, though I must admit, I was also a little sceptical. One evening we were walking down a mule track towards Mayolikhan. It is a beautiful trail with oak and rhododendron forest above and Chir pine forest below. It is a level walk in most parts with lovely views of the sun sinking into the western horizon. As I was walking, I was looking down at the hill slope into the valley. Suddenly, I saw something crouching down below, under a tree. Something whitish. Could it be a large hare? Could it be a sheep? Or could it be…?? I checked through my binoculars, and sure enough, sitting under a tree was a very white looking goral! Another one, a more familiar looking one, was sitting right next to it. Both were looking towards us. As we all gathered to take a look, the white goral froze in position while the normal one got up and silently slipped away. We gazed at this beautiful, unusual creature for some time, until it got up and slowly slipped away too. We had, quite by chance, seen the  white goral of Binsar. 🙂