Two extremely rare white giraffes were killed in northeastern Kenya apparently by poachers, the founder of the Hirola Conservation Program in Kenya, told CBS News. The carcass of a female white giraffe and one of her babies were found by rangers in Kenya's Garissa County, according to conservationists.
A third white giraffe is still alive – and it is believed to be the only one left in the entire world. The giraffes are white due to a rare condition called leucism, which causes skin cells to have no pigmentation, according to BBC News.
The white giraffes were first spotted in 2016 and photographed in 2017, Abdullahi H. Ali, founder of the Hirola Conservation Program in Kenya, told CBS News.
"This is the first time we ever saw white giraffes in Kenya although they have been reported elsewhere before like in Tanzania," Ali wrote in a message to CBS News. "We do not know when she was killed but probably a month ago or so."
The two white giraffes that died were last seen more than three months ago, Mohammed Ahmednoor, manager of the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy, which partners with the Hirola Conservation Program, told BBC News.
"This is a very sad day for the community of Ijara and Kenya as a whole," Ahmednoor said in a statement. "We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe."
"Its killing is a blow to the tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species and a wake-up call for continued support to conservation efforts," Ahmednoor's statement continued.
It is unclear who the poachers are and what their motive was. The Kenya Wildlife Society is investigating the killings.
Poaching is prohibited in Kenya and poachers are likely to face a jail time, Ali wrote to CBS News. "The community is devastated by this loss and certainly saddened," he added.