Poachers have killed two super-rare white giraffes in Kenya, a conservationist group has said.
Rangers from the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy said they discovered the carcasses of a female white giraffe and her calf in a village in Kenya’s Garissa County.
The conservationists said just one white giraffe remains and is thought to be the only one left in the world.
The poachers have not been identified and their motive for killing the pair is not yet known.
According to CGTN, the carcasses were found in a ‘skeletal state’ meaning they could have been dead for a long time before they were found.
The Kenya Wildlife Society has said it is investigating the incident.
Manager of Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy Mohammed Ahmednoor said in a statement: “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.”
He added: “This is a long-term loss given that genetics studies and research which were significant investment into the area by researchers, has now gone to the drain. Also, the white giraffe was a big boost to tourism in the area.”
Commenting on the surviving white giraffe, Ahmednoor said: “After this incident, only a lone bull remains.”
The pure white giraffes hit headlines in 2018 when photographs of them were shared online.
A post from the Hirola Conservation Programme at the time commented that the animals ‘were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence’.
It went on: “The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signalling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes.”
Their unusual colouring was caused by a genetic condition called leucism, which stops pigmentation to some cells; it is similar, but different to albinism, in which no melanin is produced at all. Unlike albino animals, those with leucism have dark eyes.
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