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Conservationists spot rare white giraffes in Kenya

  • Published at 05:45 pm September 15th, 2017

A pair of rare white giraffes was spotted near a wildlife conservation area in Kenya, after the local residents tipped off conservationists in early June this year. A rare sight, the reticulated mother and calf giraffes suffer from a “leucism,” not to be confused with “albinism.” Unlike albinism, a genetic condition causing an absence of melanin pigments, leucism, also a genetic condition, is the partial loss of pigmentation which can make the animal have white or patchily coloured skin. Animals with leucism tend to have unchanged eye colour since they continue to produce dark pigment in their soft tissue, which also explains the white giraffes’ dark eyes. The giraffes were found in the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in Kenya’s Garissa county. 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. The giraffes were first reported to the rangers in June by a local villager, reports a HCP blog post. “They 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 signalling the baby Giraffe to hide behind the bushes – a characteristic of most mothers in the wild to prevent the predation of their young.” HCP also reports that the first sighting of a “leucistic” giraffe was made in Tarangire National park, Tanzania, in January 2016. Meanwhile, the second sighting was reported in March 2016 from Ishaqbini conservancy of Garissa county in Kenya. Since the organisation published footage of the encounter with the peaceful white giraffes, the video has gone viral on social media this week.