Poachers kill 2 rare white giraffes with only 1 remaining in the wild

Yvonne O'Halloran

Just this month, the bodies of two rare white giraffes (a mother and her baby) were discovered in Grassia County, Kenya. Wildlife officials announced in a statement last week that a female and her seven-month-old were found “in a skeletal state after being killed by armed poachers” in a nature conservancy in Ijara, northeastern Kenya, probably about four months ago. The giraffes likely had a genetic condition called leucism, which inhibits skin cells from producing pigment but allows other organs, like eyes, to be dark coloured. This differs slightly from albinism, which inhibits the body from producing pigment in all organs. Despite their inability to produce colorful pigments, giraffes and other animals with leucism don’t face genetic disadvantages to their survival.  A third giraffe, the young male offspring of the dead female, is believed to still be alive.

The Kenya Wildlife Society is is still searching for the people responsible for these killings and to understand why anyone would do this. A report that was published 2017 found that meat-eaters and poachers drive 59% of the largest animals on earth toward extinction.

Giraffes are under threat globally. Their populations have declined by more than 40% over the past three decades, to just under 16,000, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global authority on the conservation status of wild animals and plants. Poaching of giraffes, which are killed for their hide, meat, bones, and tails, has increased across Africa.

“This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole,” said Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy, which confirmed the deaths in a statement. “We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe.”

 

 

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