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Rare White Giraffe Is Spotted in Tanzania

This beautiful baby giraffe can really stand out in a crowd. Spotted over a year ago roaming the Tarangire National Park, she has been sighted again this year, alive and well. This is really good news because as lovely as her colouration is, it may also make her a greater target for poachers and natural predators in the wild. Christened by a local guide as “Omo” after a popular brand of detergent in Tanzania, she draws her rare white colouring from a condition known as leucism.

Leucism is a partial loss of cellular pigmentation which results in Omo’s pale, patchy colour. It is not to be confused with albinism, which is a reduction in just melanin; leucism is the combined lack of multiple types of pigments.

Via MyModernMet

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This young giraffe calf named Omo suffers from a genetic disorder called Leucism which makes her usually reddish coat appear a striking white. The condition (not to be confused with Albinism) is relatively common among other animals, particularly birds, but has never been documented in a wild giraffe before. Beautiful as she may be, rangers at the Tarangire National Park in Tanzania fear that Omo is at very high risk of being targeted by poachers. It’s likely that this innocent animal will live in constant danger of losing her life to heartless individuals only interested in making a profit.

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Different is cute

An extremely rare white giraffe calf was recently spotted in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park. Scientists at the New Hampshire-based wildlife-research group Wild Nature Institute originally reported the newborn Masai giraffe calf in 2015, around the time a local tour guide named her Omo, after a popular local brand of detergent.

Omo isn’t albino; she has a genetic condition called leucism, says Derek Lee, founder of the institute. Her skin cells don’t produce pigmentation, but soft tissues, such as her dark eyes, do. Though uncommon, leucism occurs in many species, including penguins and hippos:

Image credit: Derek Lee, Caters News 

Omo the young giraffe is luecistic, not albino, and has been recently photographed for the second time at Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. 
Omo was seen about a year ago in the park, and scientists were happy that she is still alive and well. Only about half of giraffe calves make it past six months old, and oddly-colored animals are particularly prone to being hunted, poached, getting skin cancer, or having maladaptive genetic differences. Photo by Derek Lee, Caters News. 

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Meet Omo, the latest addition to our small, but extraordinary collection of leucistic animals. Omo is a young giraffe living in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. She was first spotted last year as a calf by Dr. Derek Lee, scientist and founder of the Wild Nature Institute, which is currently conducting an extensive survey of all the giraffes in the park. Individual giraffes are identified by their unique spot patterns, but Omo’s ghostly pale coat, caused by a lack of cellular pigmentation, immediately caught the scientist’s attention.

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

Her exceedingly rare coloring makes her a more likely target for poachers and natural predators, so Dr. Lee was very pleased to report that Omo has been sighted alive and well one year after her initial discovery.

“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 some day she has calves of her own.”

[via My Modern Metropolis]