The population of African giraffes has fallen by 40 per cent in the last three decades. Nearly 4 million square miles of their habitat has disappeared – an area almost the size of the United States. Africa has four times more elephants than it has giraffes; half of them born today will not reach adulthood.
For a sub-species called Rothschild’s giraffe, also known as the Nubian giraffe, the situation is even more critical. There are thought to be no more than 2,000 surviving in the wild, of which 800 are in Kenya.
They used to be widespread throughout the Eastern Rift Valley stretching down from Ethiopia to Uganda but were wiped out of the area more than 70 years ago.
In an effort to begin to reintroduce the Rothschild giraffe to its ancestral homelands, in 2012 eight were taken to a peninsula jutting out into Kenya’s Lake Baringo. This may seem a small number, but it represents one per cent of the entire Kenyan population. However, torrential rains have now turned the peninsula into an island. As the waters rise the eight giraffes are stranded. If they are not rescued they will drown.
The rescue effort is a joint initiative of Kenya Wildlife Services, animal charity Save Giraffes Now, and the Northern Rangelands Trust. First, they had to build a special barge large enough to transport the jittery animals across the rising floodwaters. The barge is made of oil drums with flat flooring covered with earth so that the giraffes will feel they are still on dry land. Then the giraffes have to be coaxed to enter this strange piece of territory. Using a combination of food, (giraffes love mangoes), tranquillizers and blindfolds the terrified giraffes are manhandled onto the barge. The barge can take only one giraffe at a time. So far two, named Asiwa and Pasaka, have been saved.
When the rescue mission is complete the eight giraffes will be relocated to a 4500-acre sanctuary in the Ruko Conservancy area where they will be joined by 12 others. There, under close guard to protect them from predators and poachers it is hoped that their numbers will start to grow.
In time, it is hoped that they will travel by wildlife corridors to join up with their distant cousins in Uganda.
We therefore ask you to stick your necks out to help the heroic efforts of Save Giraffes Now in the preservation of this iconic, magnificent animal by clicking on the link below.