Due to a disease known as leucism, the unnamed reticulated giraffe residing in Kenya's Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy has snow-white fur. This rare genetic disorder occurs when individuals are born without any melanin in their skin or hair. Because of this, they are susceptible to sunburn and other skin problems. Additionally, these animals do not develop black hairs because they lack the necessary enzymes for melanin production. Due to these factors, they are likely to suffer from extinction due to high rates of mortality during childhood.
Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy is located in Meru County, eastern Kenya. The community conservancy protects nearly 19,000 acres of land that supports many species of wildlife including lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, buffalo, gazelles, antelopes, and more. The snow-white giraffe is the only specimen of its kind at the conservancy.
This animal was first discovered by photographer Brian J. Skerry who was working with the International Conservation Center on behalf of the conservancy. During his time there, he came across the reticulated giraffe while it was being led through a forest path. He wrote about his experience photographing the animal in an article for National Geographic magazine.
The giraffe's white look is caused by leucism, a hereditary disease in which skin cells lack color. Poachers have murdered two exceedingly rare white giraffes in northeast Kenya, leaving the world with only one such animal. A mother and her seven-month-old youngster were among the two giraffes slain. The other white giraffe was found abandoned near its deceased companion.
People tend to think that all white animals are dead because so few people have seen a living white giraffe. But many black animals are also dead -- including some that we know about. For example, there used to be more black rhinos in South Africa than there are today after years of poaching them for their horns.
It's not easy being white or black. They get treated differently by others and sometimes feel like outcasts. However, most white people will tell you that it's amazing how many friends they can make with just one color of hair. And black people often say the same thing about themselves.
The Kenya Animals Society, the country's leading conservation organization, said it was delighted to help safeguard "unusual wildlife like the sole known white giraffe." White giraffes were discovered in Kenya in March 2016, roughly two months after they were discovered in neighboring Tanzania. The unusual coloration appears to be genetic and not due to illness or injury.
Giraffes are black or dark brown except for their white coats which can reach up to four feet long. They use their tails for balance and for defense when threatened. Male giraffes will often fight each other for mating rights with their necks bent back until one gives in. They then will usually leave the area looking for another female to challenge for her attention.
When fighting, the first to give in is usually defeated. There are several species of giraffe found around the world including South Africa's Okapi which is related to cows and zebus (horns).
Giraffes have been used in mythology for centuries. In some cultures they are associated with luck while in others they are considered evil creatures. Some stories say that if you look into a giraffe's eyes, you will see your own death.
There are only about 5,000 African wild dogs left on earth. They are native to southern Africa and there are no more than 100 male dogs in captivity.
The Somali giraffe (Giraffa reticulata), sometimes known as the reticulated giraffe, is a giraffe species native to the Horn of Africa. It may be found in Somalia, Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. There are roughly 8,500 people that live in the wild. Giraffes are the world's tallest mammals. They can reach a height of 4m (13-feet) and have a mass of up to 500kg (1102 lbs).
Giraffes use their long necks for browsing plants. They also eat leaves, shoots, herbs, and fruit. When food is scarce, the giraffe will eat grass. There are about 11 different species of giraffe worldwide, all of which are found in Africa.
Giraffes usually give birth to one calf every two years. The baby is born blind and hairless with teeth already in its mouth. It can walk immediately after being born but does not leave the protection of its mother for several months. The female giraffe lives about 15 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.
There are only about 8,500 giraffes left in the wild. This animal is near extinction because people want their skin for traditional medicines or as decorative items. They also are killed by hunters looking for meat or money. No population data are available for this species.
People often think of zebras when they hear the word "giraffe".