18 September 2017

Kenya: Two Rare White Giraffes Spotted in Kenya's Garissa County Go Viral

East Africa has always been a popular wildlife destination, and more tourists may find themselves going to see two exotic rare giraffes recently found in Garissa County in Kenya. The extremely rare giraffes have been an internet sensation, and photos of the animals have gone viral.

At the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in Kenya's Garissa County, two pale white giraffes were spotted by locals. The two giraffes, a mother and her calf aren't the first white giraffes to be discovered. The first white giraffe named Omo, after a popular detergent in parts of Africa was found in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park around 2015.

The white giraffes are not albino, which is a genetic condition that results due to lack of colour pigmentation. The white giraffes have a genetic condition called leucism which is a partial loss of pigmentation resulting in the animal having white or patchily covered skin. Unlike albinism which affects the pigment in the eyes, leucism does not.

According to a blog post by the Hirola Conservation Program (HCP), the two giraffes were located early in June this year. Some members of the community in which the giraffes were found said it's beyond anything they've ever seen.

The Hirola Conservation Program Director and Founder , Dr. Abdullahi Ali said, "Nature is always stunning and continue to surprise humanity! These rare snow white giraffes shocked many locals including myself but these gave us renewed energy to protect and save our unique wildlife. I am positive these rare giraffes will change the perception of outsiders regarding north eastern Kenya in which many people have negative perceptions."

The giraffes have been christened 'snow white giraffes' have become an internet sensation. According to Melissa Breyer, a journalist and author, other types of giraffes are Masai giraffes which have spots that look like oak leaves while Rothschild's giraffes boast large, brown splotches outlined by thick, pale lines. Kenya's own reticulated giraffe has a dark coat with very graphic shapes and well-defined narrow lines. Unless, of course, that reticulated giraffe happens to be white as a ghost. The giraffes are being guarded against poachers.

Giraffe poaching remains a big problem in Tanzania, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. A report published in 2014 indicates that, "giraffe poaching in several countries is on the rise, a trend that could further threaten a species that has lost more than 40 percent of its population over the past 15 years".

Conservationists continue to highlight the plight of one of Africa's megafauna in an effort to preserve the animal poached for its tail, meat and hide.

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