FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
U.S. and International:
Laurie Holloway/Sandy Antunez
Another giraffe floated to safety from island, in fourth successful rescue by Save Giraffes Now partners
LAKE BARINGO, Kenya (March 3, 2021) –
Continuing the ongoing and complex rescue of giraffe from their flooded Kenyan island, partners of U.S.-based nonprofit Save Giraffes Now today floated another endangered Rothschild’s giraffe to safety on World Wildlife Day.
The team successfully moved female giraffe Awala from her small island, which has been threatened by rising floodwaters, to Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy’s newly created giraffe sanctuary. The lake has stopped rising for now, but very little natural food remains on the island. Awala will find plenty to eat at Ruko, where she was reunited with Asiwa and Easter, the first two giraffe rescued in December, and Lbarnoti, the male rescued in February.
While the conservation team is thrilled with the successful move, five more giraffe remain on the island and must be rescued soon. This group includes the beloved calf Noelle, who was born at Christmastime and would be the youngest ever moved in this rescue operation.
“We’re making great progress, but we won’t rest until the other fiare safe at Ruko Conservancy, as well,” said David O’Connor, president of Save Giraffes Now. “There has been a recent devastating decline of the giraffe population, but very few people are even aware they are endangered, so each one matters greatly.”
Remaining on the island are Nkarikoni, her baby Noelle, Nasieku, Nalangu, and young Susan. The team urgently wants to move them to safety, as young giraffe are particularly susceptible to predators, a lack of food and other dangers. About half of all giraffe calves don’t live to their first birthday, and two calves on the island already have been lost.
“We’re thrilled Noelle is healthy and developing nicely – she is now 7 feet tall! – but we must continue to keep her safe until she is big enough to move, which is thankfully fast approaching,” said Susan Myers, the founder and CEO of Save Giraffes Now. “We remain hopeful to finish these rescues as quickly as possible.”
The rescues are an international collaboration among Save Giraffes Now, Kenya Wildlife Service, the Northern Rangelands Trust and the Ruko Community. The concept of creating the sanctuary and moving the stranded giraffe had been discussed for years. But in February 2020, the situation had become critical, as the giraffe had limited food on the shrinking island.
Upon hearing of the worsening crisis, Save Giraffes Now founder Myers met with NRT and Ruko Conservancy officials. At that meeting, she pledged approximately 64% of the total costs to help create the giraffe sanctuary and move the animals at last. That donation allowed NRT to begin constructing the sanctuary. The Sidekick Foundation contributed about 24%, and two U.S. zoos chipped in the other 12%.
Save Giraffes Now, the world’s second-largest nonprofit focused solely on giraffe conservation, has to date contributed two-thirds of the cost of the project. The nonprofit also supports giraffe projects in eight other African countries on behalf of the iconic animals.
The giraffe arrived to the mainland from Longicharo Island, a rocky lava pinnacle studded with acacia trees. They were originally reintroduced to the peninsula in 2011, in hopes the isolated location would provide shelter from poaching and increase the population in their native Western Kenyan range.
Over the past several years, the water level of Lake Baringo has been rising and it became imperative to move these Rothschild’s (Nubian) giraffe, a dwindling subspecies of the Northern giraffe that once roamed the entire western Rift Valley in Kenya and into Uganda. Today, fewer than 3,000 are left in Africa, with only about 800 in Kenya.
The move is one of several community-led conservation fieldwork projects supported by Save Giraffes Now, a nonprofit started in Dallas in 2019 by Myers. The organization focuses on immediate, on-the-ground action to save and protect endangered giraffe across Africa from extinction.
To learn more about Save Giraffes Now and the partners’ work on this project, visit the Save Giraffes Now project website and follow the team’s progress on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
About Save Giraffes Now
Save Giraffes Now is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit committed to saving giraffe from extinction by supporting action-oriented projects with immediate impact. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with a base in Nanyuki, Kenya, Save Giraffes Now (SGN) creates awareness about the significantly declining giraffe populations in Africa and supports on-the-ground programs, such as de-snaring/anti-poaching efforts, rewilding, and community-led projects, to ensure a stable future for the iconic giraffe and the people who live alongside them. All donations to Save Giraffes Now go directly to projects in Africa. For more information, visit www.savegiraffesnow.org.
Kenya Wildlife Service
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) conserves and manages Kenya’s wildlife for the Kenyan people and the world. It is a state corporation that was established by an Act of Parliament (Cap 376), now repealed by the Wildlife and Conservation Management Amendment (2013), with the mandate to conserve and manage wildlife in Kenya, and to enforce related laws and regulations. KWS undertakes conservation and management of wildlife resources across all protected areas systems in collaboration with stakeholders. It is our goal to work with others to conserve, protect and sustainably manage wildlife resources. The community wildlife program of KWS in collaboration with others encourages biodiversity conservation by communities living on land essential to wildlife, such as wildlife corridors and dispersal lands outside parks and reserves. The premise is that “if people benefit from wildlife and other natural resources, then they will take care of these resources.”
About Northern Rangelands Trust
The Northern Rangelands Trust is a community conservancy membership organisation that works for 39 community conservancies (including Ruko) across 42,000 km2 of northern and coastal Kenya. NRT provides funding and training to help indigenous institutions to enhance governance structures, lead peace and security efforts, identify, implement and manage development projects, take the lead in wildlife conservation and rangelands management programmes, build sustainable businesses linked to conservation, and establish relationships with investors, government and others for a sustainable future. NRT receives core programme support from USAID, DANIDA, The Nature Conservancy and many others.
About Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy
Ruko Community Conservancy is a community-based organisation, created to support the management of community-owned land for the benefit of household livelihoods and for the conservation and protection of natural resources, particularly the Rothschild’s (Nubian) giraffe. It is home to the Il Chamus and Pokot communities, who work to build strong governance and peace structures, grow diversified local businesses linked to conservation, implement community-led development programmes and manage natural resources for people and wildlife alike. Ruko is one of 39 community conservancy members of the Northern Rangelands Trust.
PHOTOS: Female giraffe Awala being loaded onto a community-made barge to be floated to her new home at Ruko Conservancy.
All photos credit: Kieran Avery, Northern Rangelands Trust