Kenya: Nine endangered giraffes rescued from sinking island using makeshift boat

Rising water levels have forced relocation of critically endangered giraffes to Kenya’s mainland from a sinking island.

Nine giraffes were floated on a specially designed barge separately over Lake Baringo, a video of the complex operation showed.

Sixty empty drums were used to build the barge and its sides were reinforced to prevent the lanky animals from falling overboard.

The video showed a number of wildlife officials helping the giraffe walk into the barge and then closing its gate. The barge is pulled by a tugboat on the muddied waters and it then reaches the mainland park, about a mile away.

Lake Baringo, which is now reducing in the area because of rising water levels, plays an important role in sustaining the local population and economy by attracting tourists and provides a home for several wildlife species. But excess rainfall due to climate change has led to lakes of Rift Valley rising to levels not seen in 50 years, damaging houses, habitats, and parks.

The first giraffe was floated off the island in December 2020 under this operation, led by the non-profit Save Giraffes Now, which aims to protect giraffes from extinction so they can live freely in the woodlands and savannas of their native Africa.

As few as 800 Rothschild’s giraffes now exist in Kenya. These critically endangered animals once lived in the entire Western Rift Valley in Kenya and Uganda, but the loss of habitat and poaching has reduced their numbers significantly.