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White giraffe believed to be last female in the world killed by poachers

The mother and calf were found in a "skeletal state" conservationists said

Louise Hall
Wednesday 11 March 2020 00:50 GMT
The rare giraffes were discovered in 2016
The rare giraffes were discovered in 2016 (Hirola Conservation Program)

A white female giraffe, thought to the last of its kind in the world, has been killed by poachers, conservationists in Kenya have announced.

The mother her and calf were found in a "skeletal state", and were thought to have died at least four months ago, Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy said in a statement.

The statement added the animals had been killed by armed poachers.

The rare giraffes had been living at the Kenyan wildlife sanctuary. The Kenya Wildlife Service was called to investigate the disappearance after the animals had been seen for several weeks.

“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,” Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of the reserve in Garissa County, Kenya, said in a press release.

Mr Ahmednoor described the killing of the giraffes as a “blow to tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species and a wake-up call for continued support to conservation efforts.”

After the killing of the mother and calf, only one white giraffe, a lone bull, remains.

The unique animals inherited their bright white coat from a condition known as leucism that inhibits pigmentation in some skin cells.

The condition is different from albinism which prevents any melanin from being produced in cells at all.

The white giraffes were first seen in Kenya in March 2016, but the family made headlines in 2017 after their distinctive hide was photographed.

40 percent of the giraffe population has been lost in just 30 years, with poaching and wildlife trafficking are contributing to this decline, according to the Africa Wildlife Foundation.

The Kenya Wildlife Society, the main conservation body in the East African state, said it was investigating the killings.

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