The animal was a local legend among the people living in a protected area of southeastern Brazil's Atlantic rain forest. They reported sightings of a pure-white tapir, a piglike animal that's usually dark brown, roaming the area, but there was never any proof.
Such tales piqued the interest of National Geographic contributing photographer Luciano Candisani, who wanted to capture the ghostly beast on film.
So, in May 2014, Candisani traveled to one of the odd tapir's reported hangouts in the Votorantim Reserve and waited for the nocturnal animal under the cover of darkness. Many tapirs came by, but no white ones. Undeterred, the photographer set up a camera trap, which takes a picture whenever something passes in front of it.
"My heart skipped a beat when, while reviewing the photos from one night, the white tapir suddenly appeared in one of the frames," says Candisani.
It's the first known photo taken of an albino lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) in the wild.
Candisani said he feels lucky to have photographed such a rare and elusive animal. Since photographing the albino tapir, Candisani has set up more camera traps in the area and captured images of other little-seen South American creatures, such the bush dog.
"The threatened Atlantic Forest," he says, "can still hold many surprises for science."
(Source: National Geographic)