Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
October 4, 2018 ·  3 min read

Video: Rare White Giraffes with Leucism Spotted in First Ever Footage

Rare wildlife sightings are a real treat. On June 30th, just outside the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in the Ijara County of Kenya, an extremely rare white giraffe was photographed. [1]

Rare White Giraffe Spotted in Kenya

This is not just a rare sighting, however, but a very special one. This white giraffe is thought to be the only one of its kind left on the planet. Two of the nearly extinct animals were killed by poachers earlier this year, making this single male the only one left. [1]

The two killed were a mother and her calf, who’s carcasses were found by rangers of the conservancy in a Garissa county village back in March. [2]

Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of the conservancy, spoke about the tragic incident.

“This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole. We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe…It’s killing is a blow to the tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species and a wake-up call for continued support to conservation efforts.” [1, 2]

Read: Ever Heard Of Albino Animals? Melanistic Animals Are The Opposite

Not the First Sighting

In June 2017, a local Kenyan villager was herding some animals when he spotted what seemed like a ghostly vision of a mother giraffe and its baby. But these giraffes were not like others that have tan coats with brown spots. This mother and baby giraffe were white.

The following August, local residents and conservationists had the rare privilege of spotting the white giraffes again in the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy.

“They were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence,” said one of the Hirola Conservation Programme (HCP) staff. “The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signalling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes – a characteristic of most wildlife mothers in the wild to prevent the predation of their young.” [3]

Apparently, people have reported having seen these white giraffes only twice:

  • In January 2016 in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park [3]
  • March 2016 in the same Kenyan conservancy mentioned above. [3]

This remarkable video footage showing the rare mother and baby giraffe posted below seems to be the first of its kind. [3]

Read: Farmer Discovers Rare Yellow Turtle That Experts Haven’t Seen Before

What Is Leucism: Why Some Giraffes Are White

According to the founder of Hirola Conservancy, Abdullahi H. Ali, the reason the giraffes are white can be attributed to a genetic condition called “leucism.” [5]

Leucism, as defined by Merriam-Webster is: [6]

“An abnormal condition of reduced pigmentation… that is marked by overall pale color or patches of reduced coloring and is caused by a genetic mutation which inhibits melanin and other pigments from being deposited in feathers, hair, or skin.”

While this giraffe footage is the first of its kind, leucism has been a part of the animal kingdom for a long time, affecting animals such as: [5]

  • Birds
  • Peacocks
  • Penguins
  • Fish
  • Lions
  • Eagles
  • Hippos
  • Snakes
  • Moose

The Union for Conservation of Nature listed the giraffe as “vulnerable” in 2015 because the population had declined 36-40% since 1985. Now, the white giraffe is on the brink of extinction. (5)

While the outlook for the white giraffe looks grim, as awareness against poaching and the need for animal conservation grows, hopefully, the story of the white giraffe will help prevent other animals from suffering the same fate.

Editors Note (08/06/2020): This first section of this article has been updated to include new information regarding a recent sighting of these giraffes.