These rare white giraffes were spotted in Kenya – but the phenomenon isn’t caused by albinism. pic.twitter.com/gTzcKw5sa4
— Business Insider UK (@BIUK) December 24, 2017
A pair of rare white giraffes have been spotted in Kenya, to the delight of local residents and conservationists.
The reticulated giraffes, a mother and child, suffer from a genetic condition called leucism, which inhibits pigmentation in skin cells. Unlike albinism, animals with leucism continue to produce dark pigment in their soft tissue, which explains the white giraffes’ dark eyes and other colouring.
After local residents tipped them off, conservationists found the giraffes 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 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.”
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According to the HCP, this most recent footage is only the third known sighting of a white giraffe.
A white giraffe in the same Ishaqbini conservancy was reported in March 2016, while in Tanzania, a Masai giraffe calf called Omo was observed in Tarangire national park in January 2016.
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.