Elusive snowy white giraffes filmed in Kenya
As if giraffes weren't exotic enough, this very rare mother and baby seem outright otherworldly in their absence of color and pattern.
The giraffe's species name, camelopardalis, means “camel-leopard,” because they were originally thought to be a combination of the two animals. And while now we may certainly know better, early camel-leopard admirers can hardly be blamed – especially given those distinctive markings.
Different subspecies of giraffes have different patterns. For example, Masai giraffes have spots that look like oak leaves while Rothschild's giraffes boast large, brown splotches outlined by thick, pale lines. Kenya's own reticulated giraffe, has a dark coat with very graphic shapes and well-defined narrow lines. Unless, of course, that reticulated giraffe happens to be white as a ghost.
Incredibly rare with what appears to be only a handful sightings in the wild captured on film, white reticulated giraffes are pale in color thanks to a genetic condition called leucism. Unlike albinism, in leucism skin cells don’t produce pigmentation, but soft tissues, like dark eyes, do.
So far the white giraffes have been found only in Tanzania and Kenya; the first was reported in January 2016 in Tarangire National park, Tanzania. The two pictured here come from Kenya.
The duo is an adult female and calf, and they were filmed by the Hirola Conservation Programme (HCP), a group that partners with Rainforest Trust (RT). The giraffes were in the region where Rainforest Trust and HCP are protecting vital habitat for the Hirola, the world’s most threatened antelope, explains RT.
Early june this year, reports of a white baby giraffe and its mother were reported to us by the rangers who got the report from one of the villagers adjacent to the Ishaqbini conservancy. We hurriedly headed to the scene as soon as we got the news. And lo! There, right in front of us, was the so hyped ‘white giraffe’ of Ishaqbini conservancy!
And sure enough, you can see them in the video below. They don't even look real! But we're convinced, especially given National Geographic's reporting on the phenomenon. As well, we've been seeing other animals with leucism – like the majestic white moose traipsing through Sweden recently, or the ever-magical white peacocks that "someone" around here was swooning over not long ago.
Aren't they incredible? If you've already started thinking this one through, however, you may have ended up where I did, which is something like: Someone paint those giraffes in giraffe camouflage, quick! Talk about not blending in ... which is always a concern given that humans are jerks. Thankfully, the giraffes are in a preserve that takes poaching very seriously and they should be pretty well protected. And in the meantime, the ghosty giants are working as ambassadors of Mother Nature, reminding us again of just what an incredible world we live in, white giraffes and all.
Via One green Planet