NEWS AND STRONG OPINION: It makes you sick. It depresses me. It pisses me off to be perfectly frank. Here we have an entirely innocent and extremely rare white giraffe caused by the presence of a gene which results in a condition called leucism. It is also found in other mammals which also gives them dark eyes. The giraffe is not all-white but much whiter than average and its coat is treasured and sought after to make exotic leather for boots, jackets, bible covers and even cushion covers complete with – can you believe it? – eyelashes! Sick.
The rarity of white drafts makes their skin highly prized and no doubt trophy hunters are also particularly interested in shooting them dead because it would be a prize to them. The rarer an animal becomes the sooner it is shot in the rulebook of humankind. It is completely mad and it makes me sad.
To add insult to injury, this alabaster-coloured male giraffe has already lost his mother and younger sibling to poachers. Kenyan rangers at the reserve where they lived near the border with Somalia found his mother and sibling stripped of their skin in March. Sigh.
To try and protect him, rangers in the Isaqhbini Hirola community conservation area in Eastern Kenya have fitted him with a tracker. It is attached to one of his horns and the rangers can receive updates hourly to check on his location and to hopefully protect him. However, I’m not sure that it’s going to work because they will know where he is at any one moment but there’s nobody there protecting him on the ground, it seems to me. They will know when he shot because the tracker won’t move any more but by then it’s too late isn’t it?
Africa’s giraffe population has declined by almost 40% over the past 40 years. It’s been described as their silent extinction. The losses are due to poaching, wars and loss of habitat. Another failure in humankind’s conservation of iconic species.
Many thousands of miles away, in Canada, there was a recent case of a white moose being shot for the same sort of reasons. It doesn’t matter where you live apparently, humankind has an obsession with killing and possessing rare animals. It’s the same mentality which makes humankind obsessed with diamonds and gold. The shame is that they are treating animals as if they are diamonds and gold or a Rolex watch. It’s pathetic. It is shameful.