Two white giraffes – one of which was the last female in the world – have been found killed by poachers in a nature reserve in Kenya.
It is believed that there is only one white giraffe left in the world. The white colouring occurs due to a rare condition called leucism, which causes skin cells to have no pigmentation. Unlike albinism, animals with leucism still produce dark pigment in soft tissues, meaning that the eyes of these giraffe were dark.
The stunning white giraffes have previously attracted much tourism to the nature reserves. The killings have also provided a blow to greater conservation efforts that are designed to protect rare and unique species.
Scientists had also been studying the genetics of the white giraffes since their ‘discovery’ in 2016, providing a further boost to the local economy.
“This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole,” said Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of the Ishaqbini Community Conservancy working with the Hirola Conservation Program.
Poachers kill or capture animals to sell them locally or for the global trade in wildlife. Wildlife trading is a major black market that has increased alongside rising wealth in Asia—a major consumer of wildlife—and the advent of e-commerce and social media websites.
International anti-poaching organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund, The International Anti-Poaching Foundation and Save The Elephants have been working hard for many years to combat the issue. Organisations such as these often work alongside local-level initiatives such as the Hirola Conservation Program.
Main Image: Sunset in Kenya, susanjanegolding, Flickr Creative Commons
By Sofi Summers