Kenya’s Only Female White Giraffe and Her Calf Killed by Poachers

Kenya's Only Female White Giraffe and Her Calf Killed by Poachers

Kenya’s only female white giraffe and her calf have been killed by poachers, conservationists said Tuesday, in a major blow for the rare animals found nowhere else in the world.

The bodies of the two giraffes were found ‘in a skeletal state after being killed by armed poachers’ in Garissa in eastern Kenya, the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy said in a statement.

Their deaths leave just one remaining white giraffe alive – a lone male, borne by the same slaughtered female, the conservancy said.

‘This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole,’ said Mohammed Ahmednoor, the manager of the conservancy.

‘We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe.

‘Its killing is a blow to tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species, and a wakeup call for continued support to conservation efforts.’

Ahmednoor added that the deaths were a blow to the tourism and research industries in a remote corner of Kenya.

‘This is a long-term loss given that genetics studies and research which were significant investment into the area by researchers has now gone to the drain,’ he said.

‘Further to this the white giraffe was a big boost to tourism in the area.’

The white giraffe stirred huge interest in 2017 when she was first spotted on the conservancy and again when she birthed two calves, the latest in August last year.

Their alabaster colour is caused not by albinism but a condition known as leucism.

The condition means they continue to produce dark pigment in their soft tissue, giving them dark eyes.

Workers at the Hirola Conservation Programme revealed in 2017 how they local community rangers had tipped them off about the giraffes.

‘They were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence,’ the conservation workers said at the time.

‘The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards infront of us while signalling the baby Giraffe to hide behind the bushes.’

The mother’s behaviour was a ‘characteristic of most wildlife mothers in the wild to prevent the predation of their young,’ they said.

An earlier white giraffe sighting had been reported in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park in 2016.

It is not clear what happened to that animal, but the conservancy says the surviving calf in Kenya is the only known one.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation says the total number of giraffes in Africa has dropped by 30 per cent since the 1980s and up to 95 per cent in some areas.

The Hirola programme is named after an endangered species of antelope which the organisation aims to protect.

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