ICONIC SPECIES

Rare white giraffe fitted with GPS for hourly monitoring updates

The collaring will ensure real time monitoring of its location and movement

In Summary

• The male giraffe has leucism – a rare genetic trait. It survived a poachers' attack in March in which a white female and its calf were killed at their Ishaqbini Hirola habitat.

• Ishaqibini Conservancy is also home to the endangered reticulated giraffe, warthog, lesser kudu, gerenuk, ostrich and maneless zebra

The lone white giraffe that was on Sunday fitted with a GPS tracking device at Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in Ijara: Courtesy.
GRACEFUL: The lone white giraffe that was on Sunday fitted with a GPS tracking device at Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy in Ijara: Courtesy.

The world’s only white giraffe has been fitted with a GPS tracking device for hourly updates of its whereabouts in Garissa's Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy.

The male giraffe has leucism – a rare genetic trait. 

The animal survived a poachers' attack in March this year in which a white female and its calf were killed at their Ishaqbini Hirola habitat in Ijara constituency.

Last Sunday, the Kenya Wildlife Service fitted the Global Positioning Satellite unit (GPS) on one horn of the white male at the request of the board of Ishaqbini Community Conservancy.

The occasion was witnessed by, among others, representatives of the Northern Rangelands Trust and Save Giraffes Now.

Rangers will give hourly updates of the giraffe's location and its movement on a daily basis. This will keep the animal secure 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,” Ahmed Noor, Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy manager said.

KWS senior scientist Eastern Conservation Area Geoffrey Bundotich added: “This collaring will ensure real time monitoring and is part of National Giraffe Strategy implementation.” 

Ishaqibini Community Conservancy was established by Hara, Kotile and Korisa communities to protect their ecosystem.

To date, 58 people, among them 24 scouts, are employed at the conservancy.

The Ijara ecosystem is also the home of the endangered hirola antelope. 

Five of the 450 hirolas have been collared.

The bespectacled antelope is native to the arid woodlands and savannahs of the Kenya/Somalia border. However, it is now found only in isolated parts of Kenya.

In 2012, the community established a predator-proof Hirola Sanctuary with 48 antelopes. That population has grown to an estimated 118-130 hirolas.

The Ishaqbini community partners with the Garissa county government, San Diego Zoo Global, Disney Conservation, United States Agency for International Development, Sidekick Foundation and New Mexico Community Foundation.

The other partners are The Nature Conservancy, Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management, Global Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Protection Solutions, Tusk Trust, Embassy of Denmark through Danida, Savannah Tracking David Cotton, Saint Louis Zoo, World Wildlife Fund and the city of Indianapolis in the US.

The partnership has resulted into improved wildlife conservation, 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,” Northern Rangelands Trust’s senior Wildlife Monitoring officer Antony Wandera said.

Ishaqibini Conservancy is also home to the endangered reticulated giraffe, warthog, lesser kudu, gerenuk, ostrich and maneless zebra, a subspecies of the plains zebra.