IJARA, Kenya, Nov 17 – 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 2020 was one of three giraffes with the condition in the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy.
However, a white female and her calf were killed by poachers in March 2020. This was what prompted the exercise on Sunday, 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 and Save Giraffes Now.
A Global Positioning Satellite unit (GPS Ossi-unit) was placed on one ossicone (horn) on the sub-adult white male. The GPS unit will give hourly updates of his location enabling rangers to monitor his movements on a daily basis and in doing so keep this unique animal safer from poachers.
“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 in time and space 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, Garissa County, while sustaining their livelihoods.
To date, 58 people from the community, including 24 scouts have received direct employment.
The ecosystem of Ijara is also home to the critically endangered hirola antelope with an estimated wild population of 450 individuals. 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 hirola. Under their stewardship, the sanctuary population has thrived, and there are now an estimated 118-130 antelopes.
The Ishaqbini community partnership with the County Government of Garissa, San Diego Zoo Global, Disney Conservation, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Sidekick Foundation, New Mexico Community Foundation, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA), Global Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Protection Solutions, Tusk Trust, Embassy of Denmark through DANIDA, Savannah Tracking David Cotton, Saint Louis Zoo, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Indianapolis 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.
“Our mission is to work with communities, enable them be resilient, secure their livelihoods as well as protect the unique wildlife like the only known white giraffe,” said Northern Rangelands Trust’s Senior Wildlife Monitoring officer Antony Wandera.
Ishaqbini Conservancy is also home to a variety of other species, including the endangered reticulated giraffe – which are facing decline across Africa – warthog, lesser kudu, gerenuk, ostrich and even a unique herd of largely maleness plains zebra.