Kenya is trying to save eight rare giraffes stuck on an island because of rising floodwaters full of crocodiles. One of the 16-foot-tall giraffes has already been saved by an international team of conservationists, wildlife experts, and people from the area who used a hand-made steel barge. But now it’s a race against time to save the other seven. A conservation non-profit in Texas called it a “life or death” situation for the other seven.
Rothschild’s (Nubian) giraffes are an endangered subspecies of the Northern giraffe. There are less than 800 of them in Kenya and about 2,000 on the whole continent. Conservationists moved the giraffes to an area around Lake Baringo in western Kenya in 2011. They hoped that the giraffes would be safe from poaching in this remote area and that their numbers would grow. Due to recent heavy rains, the lake water has been steadily rising by up to six inches per day. This has cut off a piece of land where the giraffes are now stuck. In response, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenyan non-profit Northern Rangelands Trust, and people from the Ruko community are working together to save the animals.
Since the newly formed island is now cut off from the rest of the land, conservationists feed the giraffes and check their health regularly to keep them alive. In the meantime, people from the Ruko community made a special boat to get the animals out of the water. The barge comprises a rectangular steel structure that floats on top of a series of empty drums with reinforced sides to keep the giraffes from jumping out. On Wednesday, the rescue team used this special barge to get one of the giraffes, named Asiwa, off of a separate part of the newly formed island where she was stuck by herself. “Asiwa was the most endangered giraffe because she was the only one left on an island that had flooded. She had less than an acre of land left. The people of Ruko are so glad she is now safe. I hope the next few days go as well, “The leader of Save Giraffes Now, David O’Connor, told Newsweek. Tomorrow, two more giraffes will be moved, and the rest will be saved in the coming weeks. “This rescue must be done as soon as possible,” O’Connor said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better result, and we’re excited to move the others soon. Since giraffes are going extinct, it’s important to save as many as possible.”