After missing for several months at a nature conservancy, the skeletal remains of two incredibly rare white giraffes were found by rangers in Garissa County, Kenya. The bodies were those of a mother giraffe and her 7-month-old calf. They were two of only three white giraffes at the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy. According to a statement released on Twitter, the cause of death for these animals were poachers.
Mohammed Ahmednoor, the manager of the conservancy, called it a sad day for both the community and the country of Kenya as a whole. He said that the entire community was responsible for caring for the white giraffes. While the poachers and their motives remain a mystery, the Kenya Wildlife Service is looking into the case.
The conservancy has already stated that only one white giraffe remains. The single adult male is the last of the white giraffes in the world.
The conservancy pointed out that the white giraffes are not albino, but that their loss of pigmentation is a result of a condition called leucism. Unlike albinism, leucism in animals means that they’re still able to produce dark pigment in their soft tissue cells. That is why the giraffes with leucism still have dark eyes as well as dark tail hair.
While leucism can affect a variety of mammals, the occurrence is quite rare in giraffes. Besides the three giraffes in Kenya, there has only been one other report of a white giraffe in Africa. According to Kenya’s Northern Rangelands Trust the only other one was spotted in 2016, inside Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park.
Regardless of pigmentation, giraffes are under threat and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed them as endangered. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation estimates that there are only about 15,780 alive in the world today – a sharp drop of around 56% of the 36,000 estimate of 30 years ago! The biggest threats to the giraffes’ survival is human activity, mainly deforestation and poaching. It really makes you wonder when people will finally wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to the need to save our planet. What do you think?
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.