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Poachers kill Kenya’s only female white giraffe and her calf

Poachers have killed a rare white giraffe and its calf which caused a global stir after they were spotted at the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in Garissa County.

In a statement on Tuesday, the conservancy’s manager Mohammed Ahmednoor said the deaths were confirmed by rangers and community members.

The carcasses were found in a skeletal state, meaning they could have died a long time ago.

“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. Its killing is a blow to tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species and a wakeup call for continued support to conservation efforts,” Mr Ahmednoor said.

The white giraffe made headlines in 2017 after its discovery, with its unique white hide. It is white but not albino, because of a condition known as leucism.

Unlike albinism, animals with leucism continue to produce dark pigment in their soft tissue, thus her eyes were dark in colour.

“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 a big boost to tourism in the area,” Ahmednoor added.

Giraffes, which are the world’s tallest land mammals, have been declared “vulnerable” to extinction because of poaching and a loss of habitat, according to the Red List of Threatened Species report published in 2016 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Last August, the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) announced that the female white giraffe had given birth at the Ishaqbini Hirola Community.

The birth of a male white calf brought to three the number of all known white giraffes.

“After this incident, only a lone bull remains,” Mr Ahmednoor said.