World’s Only Known White Giraffe Now Protected by GPS Tracker

World’s Only Known White Giraffe Now Protected by GPS Tracker
The only known white giraffe in the world. (Image: Save Giraffes Now)

Conservationists in Kenya, with the help of a U.S. not-for-profit, have fitted a satellite tag onto the head of a rare white giraffe. This will hopefully protect the endangered animal — the only known white giraffe in the world — from poaching.

When it comes to protecting endangered species, conservationists don’t have time to waste. Such is the case here, as a collaborative team of conservationists quickly scrambled to tag a white giraffe, according to an emailed statement prepared by Save Giraffes Now.

The request, made by Save Giraffes Now’s partners in Kenya, was quite urgent, as two other known white giraffes, a mother and her calf, were killed a few months ago. The 4.57 m-tall male is now the only known white giraffe in the world. The bull has a genetic condition known as leucism, which results in partial loss of pigmentation (and is not to be confused with albinism, which involves the absence of melanin).

The mother and calf attracted international attention in 2017 when video emerged of the pair browsing for food. Rangers with the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in Kenya found their remains earlier this year, and sadly they seem to have been victims of poaching.

The white giraffe equipped with the satellite tracker.  (Image: Save Giraffes Now)The white giraffe equipped with the satellite tracker. (Image: Save Giraffes Now)

The white bull is a reticulated giraffe, which is listed on the IUCN Red List as an endangered species. Around 11,000 individuals are known to exist, and their population is currently in decline.

Founded in 2019, Save Giraffes Now is well positioned to address requests like this one. The Dallas-based not-for-profit is solely dedicated to preventing the extinction of giraffes, which it’s doing by participating in “action-oriented projects with immediate impact,” according to the group, which has an office in Nanyuki, Kenya.

Conservationists from Save Giraffes Now, with help from the Kenyan Wildlife Service and Northern Rangelands Trust, placed the tag on the animal’s left ossicone, that horn-like protrusion on the top of their heads. The giraffe was spotted at Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy while the team was tagging other endangered animals in the park.

The tag is solar powered and records the location of the giraffe each hour. This information is relayed to the rangers via satellite, allowing them to track its movements on an hourly basis. Should the white bull venture into a potentially dangerous area, rangers would intercept the giraffe and gently persuade it to move to a safer area.

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“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,” explained David O’Connor, president of Save Giraffes Now, in the statement.

Looking ahead, Save Giraffes Now is preparing for the rescue of eight giraffes stranded on a Kenyan island. The group, along with local Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy members, KWS, and NRT, will transport the Nubian giraffes to the conservation area. Only 455 mature Nubian giraffes remain, and with their population in decline, they’re listed by the IUCN as critically endangered.