While leucistic animals are not a new thing to nature, it is still ethereal to spot a ghostly white giraffe mom and baby in the wild.
Leucism is caused by a partial loss of pigmentation, resulting in white coloration of the hair or skin. It is often confused for albinism, which is solely the reduction of melanin production. However, leucism does not affect eye color, a distinguishing characteristic from albinism.
White giraffes are even rarer than other leucistic species. The first one was reported in January 2016 in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. A second was reported in the Ishaqbini conservancy in March 2016. The mom and baby featured in the photo above and the video below were spotted by local residents in the same Ishaqbini conservancy who immediately notified the Hirola Conservation Programme in Kenya. The sighting took place in early June of this year, just the third time footage has ever been attained of leucistic giraffes in the wild.
The Ishaqbini conservancy area is well managed by conservationists, which greatly reduces any threats of poaching to these magnificent creatures. Reticulated giraffes are considered vulnerable by the IUCN, with a little more than 8,000 remaining in the wild.
The Guardian reported of the sighting, “They were so close and extremely calm and seemed not disturbed by our presence. The mother kept pacing back and forth a few yards in front of us while signalling the baby giraffe to hide behind the bushes.”
A welcome sight to locals, visitors, and conservationists, these white giraffes serve as beacons of hope for the species’ uncertain future.