Giraffes are highly discernible animals in the wild, not only because of their eccentrically long necks, but also because of the unique shapes and spots that manifest in their fur patterns. The uniqueness of a giraffe’s fur patterns is tantamount to the uniqueness of each person’s fingerprint, but in some rare instances, wild giraffes may exhibit little or no fur patterns at all, a condition known as leucism.
Image Credit: Hirola Conservation Program/Caters
Publicly released video footage from almost two-and-a-half years ago confirmed the existence of leucsistic giraffes in Kenya’s wilderness, but their location was kept secret in an effort to prevent animal poachers from moving in on them. While the tactic worked for some time, a heavy-hearted Kenya Wildlife Service took to Twitter this past week to announce that a white giraffe and her female calf were killed by animal poachers.
The giraffes’ remains were initially discovered in the Ishaqbini Conservancy, and based on the magnitude of bodily decomposition, it’s believed that the remains could be approximately four months old. This would imply that the animal poaching event transpired quite some time ago, and the Kenya Wildlife Surface only recently started investigating upon notification that the white giraffes hadn’t been spotted for some time.
Before the animal poachers conducted their heartless deed, Kenya was home to three white giraffes, including the now-deceased mother and her two young calves. While the deceased calf was a female, the one remaining calf is thought to be a male. The remaining calf has not yet been located.
“This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole,” commented Mohammed Ahmednoor, the head of the conservancy.
“We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe. Its killing is a blow to tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species, and a wakeup call for continued support to conservation efforts.”
The animal poachers responsible are still at large, and they’ve done so much more than merely kill a wild animal. In addition to wasting countless hours of conservation efforts intended to protect the white giraffe, these poachers have also dealt a brutal blow to one of Kenya’s primary tourism boosters.
One can only hope that those responsible will be brought to justice, and furthermore, that the remaining white giraffe is safe.