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Posted on: October 4, 2018 at 12:49 pm
Last updated: October 16, 2018 at 3:52 pm

It was June 2017 when 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 in Kena’s Garissa County.

“They were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence,” said one of the Hirola Conservation Programme (HCP) staff. [1] “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.”

Apparently, people have reported – only twice – having seen these white giraffes. Once in January 2016 in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park and March 2016 in the same Kenyan conservancy mentioned above. However, the remarkable video footage showing the rare mother and baby giraffe posted below seems to be the first of its kind! [2]

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What Is Leucism: Why Some Giraffes Are White

While the pair of giraffes’ beauty leaves you speechless, you’re still left with the question of why their color is different from other ones. 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.” [3]

Leucism, as defined by Merriam-Webster is: [4]

“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.”

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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: [3]

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

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Sadly, the Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the giraffe as “vulnerable” because the population has declined 36-40% over the last thirty years (i.e., between 1985 and 2015). Part of the reason is because over half of giraffe calves die within their first six months of life due to being killed and eaten by apex predators. [3,5]

And although giraffes with leucism are something to marvel at, conservationists fear that poachers will harm the vulnerable animal even more now that they have gone viral. However, Ali and others hope to prevent this from becoming a reality.

“The communities in the area were ‘excited’ about the rare sightings of leucistic giraffes, Dr. Ali said, and they were banding together to protect them.” [3]

“We promise to protect these beauties and their vital habitat,” wrote an HCP staff. [1]

Our planet is incredibly mind-blowing and its footage like this that proves it over and over again. We hope this brought you as much awe and admiration as it did for us!

Keep Reading: Jon Stewart Quits Comedy, Starts Animal Sanctuary to Rescue Abused Factory Farm Animals

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[1] ANOTHER WHITE (LEUCISTIC) GIRAFFE SIGHTING IN THE HIROLA’S RANGE! (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.hirolaconservation.org/index.php/component/k2/item/24-another-white-leucistic-giraffe-sighting-in-the-hirola-s-range

[2] Zhou, N. (2017, September 14). Rare white giraffes sighted in Kenya conservation area. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/14/rare-white-giraffes-spotted-kenya-conservation-area

[3] Joseph, Y. (2017, September 16). Rare White Giraffes Cause a Stir in Kenya. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/16/world/africa/rare-white-giraffe-kenya.html

[4] Leucism. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/leucism

[5] Giraffa camelopardalis. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/9194/0

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