Earlier this year in June, a villager in Garissa County, Kenya stumbled upon a rare sight — two white giraffes! Having never seen anything like it before, he immediately ran over to inform the rangers at the nearby Hirola Conservation Center, established to protect the critically endangered hirola antelope. Cameras in hand, the troopers rushed to the area to capture the first-ever video of the extremely rare specimens, who fortunately, appeared to be in no hurry to leave.
Not surprisingly, the recently-released footage of the adult and juvenile giraffe is creating a stir worldwide. According to experts, the lack of color is not a result of albinism, a congenital disorder caused by the reduction or absence of the pigment melanin. Instead, these giraffes have a condition called leucism, which is characterized by a partial loss of a number of different types of pigments, not just melanin. This causes the skin to appear patchy, or entirely white. While the juvenile giraffe in the video still has some faint spots, the rangers expect them to fade away as the animal becomes older.
Before this, there have only been a few other sightings of leucistic giraffes. In January 2015, the first specimen, a calf, was seen at Tanzania's Tarangire National Park. Named Omo after a popular local detergent, it was spotted at the same park again in January 2016. A few months later, in April 2016, another one was spotted and captured on camera in the vicinity of the most recent sightings. Hopefully, the giraffes will continue to delight the locals and the world with more frequent visits.
Resources: Hirola Conservation Center