Poachers have killed two rare white giraffes in Kenya according to a group that worked to protect them and their habitat.
On Tuesday, the Hirola Conservation Programme reported that the mother giraffe and her calf were found dead after a long absence. Wildlife officials said the state of their remains indicate the giraffes have been dead at least four months.
“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 giraffes,” said Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in northeastern Kenya, in a statement. “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. Further to this the white giraffe was in a big boost to tourism in the area.”
The white giraffes are leucistic — not albino — meaning they have a genetic condition that inhibits pigmentation in skin cells. Albinos lack melanin throughout their bodies.
The mother and calf were first reported in June 2017 by community members near the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in Garissa county in northeastern Kenya. The pair attracted global attention when the Hirola Conservation Program released a video.