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Rare white giraffe fitted with a GPS tracking device

By Standard Reporter | November 18th 2020

Kenya’s only remaining and the world’s last known white giraffe at Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in Ijara, Garissa County. [Courtesy]

The world’s only known white giraffe has been fitted with a GPS tracking device at Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in Ijara, Garissa County. 

The white male giraffe has leucism – a rare genetic trait – and until March was one of three giraffes with the condition in the conservancy. However, a white female and her calf were killed by poachers.

This is what prompted the exercise on November 8, at the request of the board of Ishaqbini Community Conservancy to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and with support from the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and Save Giraffes Now.

A Global Positioning Satellite unit (GPS Ossi-unit) was placed on one ossicone (horn) on the giraffe. The GPS unit will give hourly updates of his location enabling rangers to monitor the animal's movements on a daily basis.

“We are thankful for the tremendous help from KWS, Save Giraffes Now, and the Northern Rangelands Trust in furthering community efforts to safeguard wildlife species. 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,” said Ahmed Noor, Manager Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy.

“I am happy to be part of this collaring exercise that will ensure real-time monitoring as part of National Giraffe Strategy implementation,” said Geoffrey Bundotich, KWS Senior Scientist Eastern Conservation Area.

Ishaqibini, was established as a community conservancy by the communities of Hara, Kotile, and Korisa locations, with the aim of conserving the ecosystem within Ijara, while sustaining their livelihoods. 

The ecosystem of Ijara is also home to the critically endangered hirola antelope with an estimated wild population of 450. This bespectacled antelope is native to the arid woodlands and savannahs of the Kenya/Somali border and now found only in isolated pockets of Kenya.

In 2012, the community established a predatory proof Hirola Sanctuary with a founder population of 48 antelopes. Under their stewardship, the sanctuary population has thrived, and there are now an estimated 118-130 antelopes.

“Our 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,” says NRT's Senior Wildlife Monitoring officer Antony Wandera. The conservancy is also home to the endangered reticulated giraffe, warthog, lesser kudu, gerenuk, ostrich, and even a unique herd of largely maneless plains zebra.

The Ishaqbini community in partnership with the County Government of Garissa, and other partners has led to improved wildlife conservation as well as enhanced access to water, school bursaries, livestock vaccination, and micro-finance enterprises for women and youth.

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