Al Ain: Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (AWPR) has recently taken in two extremely rare white lions, calling attention to the urgent need to protect the African lion from extinction.The lions arrived from South Africa and have become familiar with their new surroundings. People can catch a glimpse of the magnificent creatures this week, a spokesperson for the AWPR said.”The white lions at AWPR are not albino,” he said. Their unique hair and skin pigmentation is caused by the presence of a recessive gene known as chinchilla or colour inhibitor. The eyes, paw pads and skin of the white lion retain a bluish hue. White lions were first documented in 1972 in the Kruger National Park of South Africa, though legend and folklore suggest the white lions have existed for many ages. Fifty years ago, he said, the lion population exceeded 450,000, but today it has been reduced to only 20,000 lions living in the wild. They were found living from South Africa to the Atlas Mountains in north Africa, and from Mesopotamia to India. Hunting, shrinking habitat and attacks by herdsmen have confined the animals to the protected African wildlife reserves, he added.