With their elongated necks and bright bodies, it’s hard to miss a white giraffe, especially when there are two. A white female and baby giraffe were first spotted on a reserve in Kenya in early August by rangers at the Hirola Conservation Program. A video was posted on YouTube recently, skyrocketed in popularity as viewers marveled over the rarity of seeing the pale animal.
Did you know that the Ishaqbini Hirola Sanctuary, located in Ijara sub-county, Garissa county, is home to both the critically endangered Hirola Antelope & the only white giraffe in the world? This white giraffe, is said to be the only one of its kind in the world, and has become the recipient of heartfelt congratulatory messages from the online community after becoming pregnant. In 2017, the mama giraffe had given birth to a male calf in February raising everyone’s hope that the giraffe will continue to bear calves.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on Monday took to social media to share the great news of the rare white giraffe in Kenya that is expecting a second calf. Kenyans took to social media to celebrate the good news with most urging KWS to offer the utmost care to the endangered species as well as ensure maximum protection of other endangered species.
A Twitter user commented, “Now this is what you should be tweeting. I want to come to see for myself this white Giraffe, looks beautiful.”
“Congratulations mama giraffe jaza porini,” wrote Miss King.
“Mama giraffe you are beautiful, zaa kabisa,” commented Leiphy smiley.
“Wishing her safe delivery,” stated Kotomya Paul.
“And as we await the newborn, the source of excitement is whether the baby will be white too,” expressed the elated KWS officials. According to scientific reports, the gestation period of a giraffe is 14 to 15 months. Kenyans on social media anticipating the birth of the calf termed the wait as a ‘baby watch’.
Why These Giraffes Are Completely White
While many have been quick to label the giraffe as albino, the white giraffe suffers from leucism, a genetic condition that inhibits skin cells from producing pigment but allows other organs, like eyes, to be dark colored. Albinism, a congenital condition, inhibits the body from producing pigment in all organs, and animals with this condition often have pink eyes.
The condition occurs across the animal kingdom. Birds, lions, fish, peacocks, penguins, eagles, hippos, moose and snakes have all displayed the trait. Despite their inability to produce colorful pigment, giraffes and other animals with leucism don’t face genetic disadvantages to their survival, but their color can attract unwanted attention. Dr. Ali said his team would like to follow and monitor the white giraffes seen in Kenya to document their life spans.
Leucism is not albinism, however: Animals with albinism produce no melanin throughout their entire bodies. Animals with leucism may have darker pigment in their soft tissue, and their eyes retain a normal color. The eyes of animals with albinism are usually red.
Besides having pale skin because of leucism or albinism, animals can have a third condition, called isabellinism, that leaves them looking grayish-yellow; but they can still produce pigment. Scientists have quibbled over the exact differences in the conditions, but leucism and isabellinism are sometimes used interchangeably.
The baby giraffe, Hirola said, was not totally white, but its tinges of color seemed to be “fading away, leaving the baby white as it approaches adulthood. “It was unclear if, under the hot African sun, the giraffes’ skin was vulnerable to damage, Dr. Ali said. The rangers did not get close enough to examine the mother and baby, but he added: “I think they will be ok. They seemed to be in excellent shape.”
Giraffes, which can grow to 20 feet and 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 published in 2016 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
About other Giraffes in the Wild
The giraffe population had declined by 40 percent over the past three decades and stood at about 97,600 at the time the findings were released. According to the giraffe conservation foundation, the animals are extinct in at least seven countries in Africa and can live up to 25 years in the wild. But more than half of all giraffe calves die before they are six months old because they’re often the targets of predators like lions, hyenas, wild dogs and crocodiles.
In conclusion, this revelation of the rare species also brought to light the existence of rare black panther species in Kenya that was proved by footage of the black leopard alongside two young cubs at the Mpala Research Center in Laikipia County. Popularly known as the black panther, the highly secretive and unique feline was captured using San Diego Zoo’s Global remote cameras that had been set up as far back as October 2018.
In many parts of the world, white animals are hunted, revered or protected. There are fewer white lions in the wild compared with the hundreds in captivity, according to the Global White Lion Protection Trust in South Africa.
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