The skeletal remains of the female giraffe and her calf were found at Ijara, Garissa County. Believed to be the only white giraffes in the world, only a lone bull remains at the moment.
According to CNN, wildlife officials estimated the skeletal remains of the giraffes were about three to four months old. Their remains were found after Kenya Wildlife Service officials embarked on a search after receiving report of the giraffes not being sighted in a while.
“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 the tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species and a wake-up call for continued support to conservation efforts,” Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy said.
The female giraffe and her calf came into the limelight in 2017 after they were discovered. They instantly became an attraction because of their unique white hide. The third one, which is currently the only surviving bull, was also later spotted.
The giraffes’ white hide, which is not as a result of albinism, is due to a condition known as leucism, which makes the skin cells unable to have any pigmentation. Animals with leucism, however, have dark eyes as they’re able to produce dark pigment in their soft tissue, unlike albinism.
“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,” Ahmednoor added.
Their killings are being investigated by the Kenya Wildlife Service, CNN reports. Despite claims from the Kenya Wildlife service that the three white giraffes were the only of their kind that was left in the world upon their discovery, another white one was also sighted in Tanzania in 2016.
Over the last 30 years, 40% of the giraffe population has been lost mainly through poaching (for their meat and skin) and wildlife trafficking, according to the Africa Wildlife Foundation.