World's Last Surviving White Giraffe Gets GPS Tracker After Poachers Killed Its Family

Conservationists put the tracker on extremely rare white giraffe, as the unusual coloration makes it dangerously vulnerable to poachers in the wilderness

The world's only known white giraffe has been fitted with a tracking device for its protection by conservationists in Kenya after its family was killed by poachers. To protect the last known surviving white male giraffe from poachers the conservationists have fitted a GPS collar on November 8 that can give real-time information on its movement to the Conservation Group.

This extremely rare animal, which is an inhabitant of Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in southeast Kenya, has an unusual genetic condition known as leucism that causes partial loss of pigmentation in its skin. The Northern Rangelands Trust said in a statement that it's the world's only white giraffe, but another was spotted in Tanzania in 2015.

A Vulnerable Animal

White Giraffe
The world’s only known white giraffe lives in the Ishaqbini Community Conservancy, Garissa County. The Northern Rangelands Trust

While the population of giraffes is threatened, the unusual coloration makes this animal extremely vulnerable to poachers in the wilderness. There were two other white giraffes in the conservancy—a female and her calf—but both of them were killed by poachers in March this year.

The trust said the three white giraffes were "an immense source of pride in the Ishaqbini community". They made international headlines over the years but now there is the only one left and concerns are mounting for the remaining animal.

Ahmed Noor, manager of the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy said, "The giraffe's grazing range has been blessed with good rains in the recent past and the abundant vegetation bodes well for the future of the white male".

Northern Rangelands Trust's Senior Wildlife Monitoring officer Antony Wandera said the mission is to work with communities, enable them to be resilient, secure their livelihoods "as well as protect the unique wildlife like the only known white giraffe."

In terms of this species as a whole, in Africa, specifically, the population has dropped because of habitat loss, poaching, and civil unrest. As per IUCN's global Red List of threatened species, the giraffe is now considered to be vulnerable. Dr. Julian Fennessy, Co-Director and Co-Founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) told BBC that these animals are undergoing a "silent extinction".

"While there has been great concern about elephants and rhinos, giraffes have gone under the radar but, unfortunately, their numbers have been plummeting, and this is something that we were a little shocked about, that they have declined by so much in so little time," he said.