Kenya’s white giraffe is the only famous white giraffe in the world. To protect the unique species from its hunters, a GPS tracing gadget has been fixed on it. The GPS device is to send hourly notifications of its location to the wildlife rangers as it grazes in the conservancy located in Garissa, eastern Kenya. According to a statement made by the Ishaqbin Hirola Community Conservancy, the male giraffe was left alone after illegal hunters killed the mother giraffe and her young one in March. The surviving one was borne by the poached female giraffe. Even though this giraffe is unique, this lone male giraffe is yet to be given a name. The white color is a result of an unusual genetic characteristic called leucism. This condition has left the giraffe as an endangered species from poachers near the Somalia border. The conservancy is grateful to the Kenya Wildlife Services and the Northern Rangelands Trust and Save Giraffes Now for their support.
According to Ahmednoor, the conservancy manager, the killing of the white female giraffe and its calf is a blow towards the community’s efforts in conservation of rare species and caution for endless efforts to support conservation. The giraffe killing is a long-term loss because it was a big tourist attraction in that area. Additionally, all the investments that had been done by researchers in that region, focusing on the genetic study and research on the giraffe, have also gone into waste. Together with her calf, the vulnerable giraffe was killed by poachers in Garissa, a town in Kenya’s northeastern region in March 2020. The whitish color is not a result of albinism but a leucism condition that produces dark pigment in the giraffe’s soft tissue, which gives them dark eyes. Even though the giraffe is unable to produce the colorful pigmentation on its skin, it doesn’t face any genetic complications to their continued existence. However, the unique color can entice undesirable attention from hunters.
It is the local community rangers that tipped the staff at the Hirola Conservation Program about the presence of the giraffes in 2017. The conservation workers noted that the giraffe was very close and calm and not bothered by their presence at that time. The female adult giraffe was seen pacing back and forth before them while gesturing its calf to stay safe behind the bushes. The behaviors exhibited by the mother giraffe is a common trait of many wildlife mothers to stop the predation of their claves in the wild. Back in 2016, there were reports that a white giraffe had been sighted in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. However, there is no more information about it; according to the conservancy, the only surviving white giraffe is found in Kenya with an attached GPS tracking tool. According to The Giraffe Conservation Foundation, there is a 30% decline in the number of giraffes found in Africa since the 1980s, and in some areas, the drop is up to 95%. The naming of the Hirola program is after a vulnerable species of antelope that the institution targets to safeguard.