Kenya's only female white giraffe and her calf have been killed by poachers, conservationists said, in a major blow for the rare animals found nowhere else in the world.
The bodies of the two giraffes were found "in a skeletal state after being killed by armed poachers" in Garissa in eastern Kenya, the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy said in a statement.
Their deaths leave just one remaining white giraffe alive, a lone male, who was borne by the same slaughtered female, the conservancy said.
"We are the only community in the world who are custodians of the white giraffe," said Mohammed Ahmednoor, the manager of the conservancy.
"Its killing is a blow to tremendous steps taken by the community to conserve rare and unique species, and a wakeup call for continued support to conservation efforts."
The white giraffe stirred huge interest in 2017 when she was first spotted on the conservancy and again when she birthed two calves, the latest in August last year.
Kenya's only female white giraffe and her calf have been killed by poachers.— AFP news agency (@AFP) March 11, 2020
Their deaths leave just one remaining white giraffe alive in the world -- a lone malehttps://t.co/9vuTdbPw5B pic.twitter.com/hpvxYDdAoJ
Their alabaster colour is caused not by albinism but a condition known as leucism, which means they continue to produce dark pigment in their soft tissue, giving them dark eyes.
Mr Ahmednoor said their deaths, confirmed by rangers and community members, was a "sad day" and a major loss for researchers and tourism providers working in the remote corner of Kenya.