NAIROBI – A pair of rare white giraffes, a mother and child, have been spotted in Kenya and filmed by conservationists for the first time.
The unique giraffes suffer from a genetic condition called leucism, which prevents pigmentation in skin cells and results in a white, pale colour.
Unlike albinism where there is only an absence of melanin, leucism is a condition that is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment.
The footage of the distinctive giraffes was filmed in the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservacy in Kenya’s Garissa county by conservationists after locals tipped them off.
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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 HCP wrote in a blog post that the giraffes were first reported to rangers in June by a local villager.
“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.”
According to HCP, other than the video, only two known sightings have been made in Kenya and Tanzania. The very first report of a white giraffe in the wild was in January 2016 in Tarangire National park, Tanzania and the second in March 2016 in Ishaqbini conservancy, Garissa county, Kenya.
Reticulated giraffes are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with an estimated 8,500 individuals in the wild. They live in Somalia, southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.