Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Save Giraffes Now, and the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) make up the team of conservation groups coordinating a daring and unusual rescue operation to save eight Rothschild’s giraffes from the flooded Longicharo Island near Lake Baringo in Western Kenya.
Giraffe saved from crocodile-ridden floodwaters in Kenya pic.twitter.com/LJ2x7F1ds5
— The Independent (@Independent) December 3, 2020
The team is using a specially adapted barge to float the giraffes one-by-one to a nearby nature preserve on custom-made steel that is part of the Ruko Community
Wildlife Conservancy built by the local Ruko community for animal rescues.
The animals are part of a group of Rothschild’s giraffes that were sent to the remote Kenyan Rift Valley in 2011 in anti-poaching protection efforts and in the hopes that the tranquillity of the remote area would help increase the subspecies’ population.
Not Out of Danger Just Yet
Asiwa, an adult female, was the first giraffe to arrive “safely on the mainland, safe from rising floodwaters.” She had been stranded on a more remote part of the island away from the other giraffes — making her rescue a priority.
🦒𝗔𝗦𝗜𝗪𝗔 𝗚𝗘𝗧𝗦 𝗔 𝗙𝗥𝗜𝗘𝗡𝗗! 🦒
One of the juvenile giraffe-Pasaka made the journey across lake Baringo to join Asiwa at the Ruko sanctuary late last week.
Six more #RukoGiraffes left on the island, hopefully they'll cross over to a new home soon.
— @nrt_kenya (@NRT_Kenya) December 7, 2020
Pasaka, a young male was the second giraffe to be brought to safety.
Not Out of Danger Just Yet
The same barge will likely be used to move the remaining six giraffes — five females, Susan, Nkarikoni, Nalangu, Awala, and Nasieku, and one adult male, Lbarnnoti, who are still stranded on the island which has been steadily shrinking due to intense rainfall.
With six more to go, the rescue team stated at least one more giraffe is set to be moved this week, with the rest likely to be moved over the next few months.
Giraffe Protection Efforts in Kenya
Africa’s population of giraffes has been on a steady decline over the last few decades due to habitat loss and poaching activity. However, some subspecies within the giraffe family are at higher risk of extinction than others.
The giraffe is an African artiodactyl mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant. It is traditionally considered to be one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, with nine subspecies.#KenyaKwetu pic.twitter.com/EVddGfS0iu
— Kenya Kwetu (@KwetuKenya) December 7, 2020
One of the most threatened populations is The Rothschild’s giraffe —who once roamed the entire western Rift Valley in Kenya, but there are fewer than 3,000 left in Africa today with as little as 1,600 of these giraffes are estimated to still be living in the wild and only about 800 in Kenya.