Photos Show Rare White Giraffe in Tanzania National Park

January 25, 2016 8:20 pm Last Updated: January 25, 2016 8:20 pm

Photos of a rare white giraffe spotted in Tanzania have gone viral, but now, the animal might be a target for poachers, according to reports.

The giraffe has a genetic skin condition, making it white instead of the standard tan-yellow color.

Ecologist Dr. Derek Lee, founder of the Wild Nature Institute (WNI), shot the photo of the ruminant animal, named Omo, according to The Telegraph newspaper.

“Omo is leucistic, meaning many of the skin cells are incapable of making a pigment. Some are, so she is pale but not pure white, with red or blue eyes, as a true albino would be,” he said. “Omo is the only pale giraffe we are currently aware of, but we have also observed leucistic waterbuck, Cape buffalo and ostrich in Tarangire.”

Leucism is a condition where there is a partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales, or cuticle. It, however, does not affect the eyes. It is caused by a reduction in several types of pigment and not just melanin like albinism.

Lee added: “Omo appears to get along with the other giraffes, she has always been seen with a large group of normally colored giraffe, they don’t seem to mind her different colouring.”

Lee said Omo is around 15 months old.

He wrote: “She survived her first year as a small calf, which is the most dangerous time for a young giraffe due to lion, leopard and hyena preying on them,” reported The Express.

“Her chances of surviving to adulthood are good but adult giraffes are regularly poached for bush meat, and her coloration might make her a target.

“We and our partners are working on giraffe conservation and anti-poaching to help give Omo and her relatives a better chance of survival.

“We hope that she lives a long life and that someday she has calves of her own.”