Endangered giraffe rescued from island on Lake Baringo

The male giraffe that was moved from the Longicharo Island on Lake Baringo to Ruko ...
The male giraffe that was moved from the Longicharo Island on Lake Baringo to Ruko Conservancy on January 27, 2021. PHOTO | KWS

Another endangered Rothschild’s giraffe has been rescued from Longicharo Island on Lake Baringo.

This as rising water levels continue to shrink the land and threaten the survival of other trapped animals.

“There are still six giraffes left on the island, all of which will be moved over the coming months to a community-run giraffe sanctuary on the mainland of the Ruko Community Conservancy,” the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said in a statement.

The project is a partnership between KWS, the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and the U.S. nonprofit Save Giraffes Now.

The rescued male bull giraffe known as Lbarnnoti is said to have voluntarily boarded a custom-made barge.

KWS said the animal had become accustomed to the barge–made by the Ruko community– over the past few weeks.

The barge was made out of steel and is designed to float on top of a series of empty drums for buoyancy.

It has tall reinforced sides to keep the giraffes from jumping out while being tugged by boats.

To ease the loading and translocation, Ruko Conservancy rangers have been supplementing the animal’s food while conducting routine health checks.

They have been using mangoes, a favorite treat, to train them to board the barge, eliminating the need for sedation.

Six giraffes remain on the island after a new female calf, named Noelle, was born on December 17 – a fortnight after two female giraffes Asiwa and Pasaka were moved to the mainland.

The giraffe is said to have epitomized the transformational impact of nurturing peace through the community conservation model.

This as the previously conflicting Il Chamus and Pokot communities came together under one community conservancy – Ruko – to protect them.

They were originally moved to Ruko in 2011, in a bid to reintroduce Rothschild’s giraffe, also known as the Baringo giraffe, back to their endemic range.

Two other giraffes were rescued in December 2020 and before that, several other smaller wildlife species.

Today, fewer than 3,000 Rothschild’s giraffe are left in Africa, with about 800 in Kenya.

KWS granted the approval to move the giraffes to a purpose-built sanctuary on the mainland after lake levels started shrinking the island, with remaining food sources becoming scarce.

The Ruko giraffe also have faced challenges in breeding. Eight calves have been born, but just two have survived prior to the recent birth.

The others are thought to have been lost to python predation, nutritional deficiencies and other natural causes.

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