Rare White Giraffes Caught On Camera For First Time In History

Conservationists have filmed two giraffes with leucism for the first time in history. Leucism is a genetic condition, which inhibits pigmentation in skin cells.

This condition is triggered by the expression of a recessive gene. The genes mainly responsible for leucism include the mitf gene and the c-kit gene. During the embryonic state, the genes create a defective transmembrane protein that contributes to a lack of melanocytes or cells that produce pigment.

Unlike animals with albinism that totally lack melanin and have red eyes from the underlying blood vessels, animals with leucism have a partial loss of multiple kinds of pigment resulting in white or patchy pigmentation.

That’s why animals with leucism exhibit white coat color or patches over their bodies (they have white or light-colored fur but have normally-colored eyes as the pigment cells in their eyes develop independently of their skin pigment cells.)

But, this condition may be disadvantageous, as the bright coloring and the lack of camouflage may attract predators. White animals are almost impossible to find in the wild because their white or light-colored fur makes them extremely vulnerable to predators.

However, two rare leucistic white giraffes have been caught on camera in Kenya. In the video, the adult and baby giraffe that both have leucism can be seen wandering around the Ishaqbini Hirola Conservancy in Kenya’s Garissa county. The baby giraffe’s spots are still faintly visible but they can keep fading into complete whiteness as the animal approaches adulthood.

According to the founder of the Hirola Conservation Program, Dr. Abdullahi Ali, who works in eastern Kenya where the animals were spotted, many conservationists and locals were shocked by the rare snow white giraffes. They spent about twenty minutes with the rarest white creatures on the planet and had the pleasure of getting close-up video and photos of them.

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