A pair of white giraffes, one adult and one calf, have been spotted by local residents and conservationists in Garissa County, Kenya.
The ghostly pair, assumed to be mother and calf, most likely have a condition called leucism. Leucism, often confused with albinism, is a genetic condition in which partial pigmentation is lost in an animal, thus resulting in a white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, and cuticles. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin. While an animal with albinism will be pure white, one with leucism will still display the stripes, spots, or other kinds of patterning. Furthermore, leucism does not affect soft tissues, this is why the giraffes’ eyes and nostrils retain the dark pigmentation.
Conservationists and park rangers were first tipped off by local residents about the two white giraffes roaming near the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in June 2017. The Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy is an area managed by Hirola Conservation Programme, a group dedicated to preserving the endangered hirola antelope, among the rarest antelopes in the world.
Giraffes are not uncommon in this area but once the word spread about the two reticulated white giraffes, researchers and conservationists were excited to get a closer look.
Once they have arrived to the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy, villagers led the conservationists to the white giraffe pair. They reported, “They (the two giraffes) were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence. The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signaling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes.”
Giraffes are already rare enough, with 8,500 left in the wild, the two white giraffes are otherworldly! However,this is not the first sighting of white giraffes in the wild. The Hirola Conservation Programme has reported earlier sightings of another white giraffe specimen in the same Ishaqbini conservancy in March 2016. And yet another sighting of a a white giraffe calf named Omo, in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park in January 2016.
Since their discovery, sightings of the white giraffe pair have been a common occurrence within the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy. They are likely to stick around until the calf is matured and it is upon the Hirola Conservation Programme to look out for.
Take a glimpse at the rare white giraffe pair in the video below!
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