Kenya’s Two Rare White Giraffes Killed by Poachers
Kenya’s Two Rare White Giraffes Killed by Poachers. These two giraffes were among the rarest giraffes to walk the planet, and now they are gone. Upon finding the bones in Garissa in eastern Kenya, the manager of the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy, Mohammed Ahmednoor, said the two killed giraffes were last spotted more than three months ago. The remains of these two striking white giraffes that lived at a Kenyan wildlife sanctuary were found in a skeletal state by rangers at the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy on 10th March 2020.
Their death has been described as “a blow to tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species,” as well as “a wake-up call for continued support to conservation efforts.” The community has reported that it is only one surviving white giraffe left in this community– a lone male born in 2017 by the same slaughtered female. After the mama giraffe had given birth to a male calf in February raising everyone’s hope that the giraffe will continue to bear calves.
Where is Ishaqbini Hirola Sanctuary?
The Ishaqbini Hirola Sanctuary, located in Ijara sub-county, Garissa county, is home to both the critically endangered Hirola Antelope & the only white giraffes in the world. The area is managed by the Hirola Conservation Programme (HCP), an NGO dedicated to preserving the critically endangered hirola antelope, one of the rarest in the world.
About the Rare White Female Giraffes Killed in Kenya
The rare female white giraffe first made headlines when she was discovered, alongside her calf, in 2017. The Video of the giraffe on this day was posted on YouTube and got over a million views. These two rare species were featured by USA Today, The Inside Edition, Guardian and National Geographic, among other outlets.
A second calf that was recently born followed and the family of three lived a free-ranging life in the sanctuary. These rare species generated a lot of interest to tourists around the world hence bringing in big numbers of travelers for Kenya safaris. Many travelers since then flocked to see the family of three, stretching for glimpses from behind the trees by many Africa safari travellers.
Why are These Giraffes White?
While many have been quick to label the giraffe as albino, The animals got their unique coloring from a condition known as leucism, which is a genetic condition that causes the giraffes’ skin cells to fail to produce pigmentation.
What is leucism?
- Leucism inhibits pigmentation in some skin cells
- It is different to albinism where no melanin is produced at all
- Animals with leucism may have darker pigment in their soft tissue
- Giraffes with leucism retain their dark eyes, whereas animals with albinism have pink eyes
- Birds, lions, fish, peacocks, penguins, eagles, hippos, moose and snakes have all displayed traits of leucism
Leucism is not albinism, however: Animals with albinism produce no melanin throughout their entire bodies. Animals with leucism may have darker pigment in their soft tissue, and their eyes retain a normal color. The eyes of animals with albinism are usually red.
Besides having pale skin because of leucism or albinism, animals can have a third condition, called isabellinism, which leaves them looking greyish-yellow; but they can still produce pigment. Scientists have quibbled over the exact differences in the conditions, but leucism and isabellinism are sometimes used interchangeably.
The condition occurs across the animal kingdom. Birds, lions, fish, peacocks, penguins, eagles, hippos, moose and snakes have all displayed the trait. Despite their inability to produce colorful pigment, giraffes and other animals with leucism don’t face genetic disadvantages to their survival, but their color can attract unwanted attention. Dr. Ali said his team would like to follow and monitor the white giraffes seen in Kenya to document their life spans.
Was the Baby Giraffe Born White?
The baby giraffe, Hirola said, was not totally white, but its tinges of color seemed to be “fading away, leaving the baby white as it approaches adulthood. “It was unclear if, under the hot African sun, the giraffes’ skin was vulnerable to damage, Dr. Ali said. The rangers did not get close enough to examine the mother and baby, but he added: “I think they will be ok. They seemed to be in excellent shape.”
Giraffes, which can grow to 20 feet and are the world’s tallest land mammals, have been declared “vulnerable” to extinction because of poaching and a loss of habitat, according to the Red List of Threatened species published in 2016 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
About other Giraffes Left in the Wild
The giraffe population had declined by 40 percent over the past three decades and stood at about 97,600 at the time the findings were released. According to the giraffe conservation foundation, the animals are extinct in at least seven countries in Africa and can live up to 25 years in the wild. But more than half of all giraffe calves die before they are six months old because they’re often the targets of predators like lions, hyenas, wild dogs and crocodiles.
Some 40% of the giraffe population has disappeared in the last 30 years and poaching for meat and skin continues, according to the Africa Wildlife Foundation. The population went from around 155,000 in 1985 to 97,000 in 2015, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Reticulated giraffes are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with an estimated 8,500 individuals in the wild. They live in Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya.
In conclusion, this revelation of the rare species also brought to light the existence of rare Black Panther species in Kenya that was proved by footage of the black leopard alongside two young cubs at the Mpala Research Center in Laikipia County. Popularly known as the Black Panther, the highly secretive and unique feline was captured using San Diego Zoo’s Global remote cameras that had been set up as far back as October 2018.
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