The World's Only Known White Giraffe Needs Our Help

Conservationists are using GPS technology to keep track of the rare animal.

white giraffe in field
Photo: NRT

A few dedicated humans in Kenya are moving fast to ensure the safety of one of the world's rarest animals — a single white giraffe.

The nameless reticulated giraffe living in the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in Kenya has snow-white fur due to a condition known as leucism. This causes a loss of skin pigmentation, making him a high target for poachers, which is exactly how he became the last of his kind.

In March, the conservancy announced in a statement that two of the three white giraffes appeared to have been senselessly slaughtered by poachers."This is a very sad day for the community," Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of the conservancy, said in a statement. "We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe."

Now, the fight is on to preserve the last one.

According to the Associated Press (AP), the conservancy fitted the lone white giraffe with a GPS tracker, which is attached to one of its horns. The solar-powered device will send out a signal every hour to alert wildlife rangers to its location so they can keep track of it at all times.

"Now ranger teams, with help from community members, can track the bull's movements, and respond immediately if he's heading toward known poaching areas or other dangers," David O'Connor, president of Save Giraffes Now, a nonprofit that assisted with the effort, shared in a statement.

Beyond working to save this giraffe, the team at Save Giraffes Now is looking to do more. According to Gizmodo, the organization is also gearing up to rescue eight Nubian giraffes stranded on a Kenyan island. Just 455 mature Nubian giraffes remain in the wild, Gizmodo reported, and are currently listed as critically endangered.

And they aren't the only ones in danger. According to the IUCN Red List, reticulated giraffes, like the lone white one above, are also listed as endangered. The species has seen a 56% population decline over the last three decades and just 11,000 remain in the wild. All four species of giraffe have experienced a total population loss of about 40% over the same time period. Though, this loss is not just due to poachers. As Smithsonian Magazine noted, much of this decline is also due to habitat loss, ecological changes, and human conflict.

As for what you can do to assist in this effort and more, head to the Save Giraffes Now website to donate and educate yourself.

Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor. Send tips and follow her on Instagram now.

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