One more Rothschild’s giraffe has been rescued from Longicharo Island, on Lake Baringo, to the mainland, as rising water levels continue to shrink the size of the island, threatening the survival of animals. This is the 3rd after two other giraffes were rescued in December 2020, and other smaller wildlife species before that.
The giraffe named Lbarnnoti, a male bull, voluntarily boarded a custom-made barge after becoming accustomed to it over the past few weeks. The barge was made by the Ruko community out of steel, and 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. Some six giraffes are still on the Island and plans are at an advanced stage to move them to a community-run giraffe sanctuary on the mainland of the Ruko Community Conservancy in the coming months. This will be done in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and the US nonprofit Save Giraffes Now.
In a statement to the press, KWS Director General Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru said, “This is a very noble exercise undertaken to help conserve and manage wildlife. It is a lifesaving activity that supports Kenya Wildlife Service mandate. He said that KWS is always ready to complement all efforts towards ensuring the endangered wildlife species are protected. “We also hope to translocate the remaining animals though the help of the community and all other stakeholders involved in this exercise,” he said.
On the same note, Rebby Sebei, Ruko Community Conservancy manager said, “It is a second success and we are happy that Lbarnoti becomes the third giraffe to be rescued, a true indicator of the dedication that the community has towards conservation of this rare, yet endangered species. This will continue to be the bond that not only secures peace amongst our community but as well a gift to history and our grandchildren from community conservation.
NRT’s Senior Research and Monitoring Officer Mr. Antony Wandera said the exercise was a success, and a tremendous achievement spear-headed by the community of Ruko hence fulfilling their key mission, of supporting a noble cause through the community conservation model, a game changer in conservation not only in Kenya but also in the south of Africa.
Lbarnnoti joins Asiwa and Pasaka in getting accustomed to their new location, food and landscape in a smaller section of the 17.7 square kilometer sanctuary, located within 44,000 hectares of Ruko Community Conservancy’s mainland. This will be the protocol for each giraffe moved. As they settle, the team from Ruko will then slowly release them into ever-larger areas of the sanctuary, where they’ll join other giraffe re-introduced in future.
Today, less than 3,000 Rothschild’s giraffe are left in Africa, with about 800 in Kenya. Approval to move the giraffes to a purpose-built sanctuary on the mainland was granted by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) after lake levels started shrinking the island. The Ruko giraffe also have faced challenges in breeding. Eight calves have been born, but just two have survived prior to the recent birth. Others are thought to have been lost to python predation, nutritional deficiencies and other natural causes – further necessitating the need to move them.