An ambitious project is emerging in Kenya where conservationists are working hard to rescue giraffes trapped on a constantly shrinking island. Protecting them from the crocodile-infested waters around them is complicated, and so the team had to build a special raft to keep the animals safe. This is an unusual vehicle for the beauty of long legs, but obviously an effective one like last year we have reported on the first animal to successfully embark on a giraffe (hey, great) journey. It is the story of a giant Noah’s power, a 44,000-acre wildlife sanctuary under threat as the flood island where it landed began to shrink. To make matters worse, the ever-shrinking Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy, founded in 2006, was home to a small population of Rothschild giraffes – the world’s most endangered giraffe species.
Only 1,669 of these animals estimated to be in the wild, of which 700 confined to Kenya, so protecting each of them has long been a priority for conservationists. The giraffes first returned to Longicharo Island in 2011 to spend their lives with what was once a large landmass on Baringo Lake. However, severe flooding has seen to reclaim river land, putting both wildlife and resident humans at risk. A collaborative effort by the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Northern Rangelands Trust, and Save the Giraffes Now has seen a few animals successfully equipped with a raft fit for a giraffe.
In the latest step in a complex rescue operation, a female giraffe named Awala arrived at the newly established Ruko Community Wildlife Sanctuary on World Wildlife Day – March 3, 2021. Here he reunited with Asiwa and Easter, the first two giraffes rescued in December 2020, and set sail in February. “We’re making great progress, but we won’t rest until the other five are safe in the Rococo Conservancy,” said David O’Connor, president of Save Giraffes Now, who emailed IFLScience. “There has been a recent catastrophic decline in the giraffe population, but very few people are aware of the threat, so everyone considers it very important.”
The five that are still waiting to protect are the birth of a calf named Noble who was born at Christmas, who will become RWC’s youngest giraffe in due course. For now, he is awaiting rescue along with his mother Nkarikoni, as well as Nasieku, Nalangu and Susan.