White elk are so rare that when rumours of one being spotted in western Sweden began circulating, an elusive celebrity was born. However, the area was soon overrun by curious tourists and unsurprisingly, it has brought headaches to the locals and one local couple in particular.
Nature photographer Hans Nilsson heard the rumours about the white elk for several years and decided to see if he could find it. Find it he did and when his incredibly rare footage of the elk was featured on popular sites such as National Geographic, Huffington Post, and the BBC, many of the thousands of people not only viewed the video, they decided to see if they could spot the elk as well.
It might have spelled good news for local business owners but for Catrin Leverström, it meant strangers wandering onto her property because that is where the elk has been known to nibble on apples from the tree in her garden.
Speaking to The Local, Leverström said, “The elk is sometimes here for several days in a row. For several hours, he walks around and munches the apple tree and bushes. How often people come depends on when the elk is here. Sometimes it’s calm for long periods, other times it’s daily.”
A local Facebook group posting pictures led people to discover the elk’s penchant for Leverström’s garden apple tree. This and sightings of this particular elk but other white elk in the area led people to Leverström’s property.
“Someone asked me to speak to them in English. I don’t know where they were from. Of course, it’s worrying now so much attention has been given to it. My husband and I joked that we should maybe sell the house now that there’s so much press about the elk being here,” Leverström told The Local and added, “It’s not particularly good for the elk to never be left in peace, constantly chased and disturbed. Unfortunately he can get aggressive.”
Jessica Hemlin’s backyard has also been visited by the white elk and as she says after word got out, she noticed more and more people turning up in her neighbourhood hoping to spot the elk. She, too, has caught images of the majestic beast and as a keen amateur photographer, she has her camera at the ready should it make another appearance.
Speaking to The Local after she got her first image in July, Hemlin said, “It’s really special. It’s a powerful feeling.”
The huge elk is white from head to toe (or hoof) and even his antlers are pure white. Experts say the elk, that is either an albino or has leucism (like albinism but with no impact on eye colour), but is otherwise perfectly healthy. Experts also say that sightseers should be aware that elk can be dangerous and advise them to keep their distance if they plan to stop and spot Sweden’s famous white elk.