Ngarikoni and baby Noelle were the remaining out of nine giraffes to be Saved. How do you rescue a herd of giraffes that are trapped on a swiftly sinking island? Float them to the mainland on a custom-constructed barge – a “GiRaft.”
(Photo : Rachel Claire)
Save Giraffes Now (SGN)
That is how a months-long rescue operation for giraffe in Kenya currently concluded on April 12, taking the last of nine giraffes that were stranded to safety, according to a statement by Save Giraffes Now (SGN), an American nonprofit organization that collaborated with conservationists in Kenya to transfer the giraffes.
The threatened giraffes, subspecies that are highly endangered known as Rothschild’s giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), had been inhabiting Longicharo Island in Lake Baringo of Kenya since 2011. But increasing waters continuously flooded their habitat, and environmentalists, worried that the giraffes could not find enough food on the island anymore. Then they made a decision to evacuate the animals.
Construction of the Giraffe-toting Barge
“The level of water in Lake Baringo has been increasing for some time, but in 2020 the rate of the increase was boosted,” flooding businesses and coastal homes, threatening the lives of the giraffes, representatives of Kenya’s Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) posted on Facebook on Dec. 2, 2020, when the evacuation of the giraffe started.
To relocate the gangly giraffes from their homes that were disappearing to a new sanctuary on the mainland, SGN partnered with NRT and other local conservation agencies: Kenya Wildlife Service and Ruko Community Conservancy.
People from the Pokot and Njemps communities designed and constructed a giraffe-toting barge with tall, reinforced sides, buoyed by 60 empty drums and pulled by boats. Rangers aided the giraffes to acclimatize to the GiRaft over time by stopping it on land and motivating the animals to investigate it by loading delicious treats on the barge, like seed pods, mangos, acacia leaves, and food pellets as stated by the SGN.
(Photo : Rachel Claire)
Ngarikoni and Her Baby Noelle
Once the giraffes acclimatize with the GiRaft, rescuers conveyed them one by one to higher ground in a sanctuary that was enclosed at the 178square-kilometer (44,000-acre) Ruko Conservancy, located about 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) across the lake from the island. The first passenger to enter the GiRaft was a female giraffe called Asiwa, as the rising waters had already separated her from the other herds, representatives of NRT wrote on Facebook.
Over the following months, more giraffes was carried across the lake, and on April 12, the remaining giraffes – a female called Ngarikoni and her baby Noelle, delivered at the ending of December – summarized the journey, according to the statement.
The populations of giraffe, in general, have reduced by about 40% over the past three decades, but the number of Rothschild’s giraffe have decreased by approximately 80%, making it “controversially one of the most endangered subspecies of giraffe,” according to a study released in 2019 in the African Journal Ecology.
Related Article: Daring Rescue To Save Giraffes From Shrinking Island
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