The only remaining female white giraffe in Kenya and its calf were found dead on Tuesday following an attack by poachers at a conservancy located in the northeastern county of Garissa that neighbors Somalia.
Officials at the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy said that skeletons of the giraffe whose white pigment was linked to a genetic disorder, were discovered after an extended search.
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.
“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,” Mohamed Ahmednoor, the manager of Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy said in a statement.
He said that armed poachers were behind the killing of the white giraffe and its calf that placed Kenya on the global map while boosting tourism revenue in the northern frontier districts.
The female white giraffe was discovered in 2017 at the community conservancy in northern Kenya and scientists concluded it suffered from a genetic condition called leucism that inhibits skin cells from producing pigment.
It gave birth to a male white calf in August 2019 thereby bringing to three the total number of known white giraffes in Kenya.
“After this incident, only one lone bull remains. This is a long-term loss given that genetic studies and research which were a significant investment in the area have now gone down the drain,” Ahmednoor said.
“Also, the white giraffe was a big boost to tourism in the area,” he added.
Kenya’s giraffe population is estimated at nearly 29,000 and is facing serious threats to their survival linked to diseases, poaching, habitat loss and climate change.
Kenya in 2018 launched a five-year master-plan to boost restoration of giraffe population through grassroots-led conservation, enhanced surveillance and protection of their habitats.