06-12-2020 by Leni Frau
The rising waters of the Rift Valley lakes not only threaten an entire ecosystem, the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people (as we have already documented in this article), but can also cause the extinction of rare and protected African animal species.
In Lake Baringo, one of northern Kenya's most endangered stretches of water, a joint operation of Kenya Wildlife Service and the Ruko Community Conservancy, in collaboration with the non-profit American "Save Giraffes Now" and the Northern Rangelands Trust, has rescued one of seven Rotschild giraffe specimens from the island of Longicharo, which may soon sink into the lake.
Its name is Asiwa and it is one of the 3000 remaining Rotschild giraffes in Africa, 800 of which live in Kenya.
Two more will be relocated to the mainland in the next few days and in a few months it is expected that all of them will be safe.
The animals were originally moved to the Ruko reserve in 2011, in an attempt to reintroduce the Rothschild giraffe, also known as the Baringo giraffe, back to its original habitat. endemic range.
The Rotschild giraffe, the NRT site says, has played a more than symbolic role in the peace process between communities through the awareness that their conservation can bring benefits through tourism and the interest of international foundations.
Thanks to their commitment to protect them, the Chamus and Pokot tribes, previously in conflict, have come together under a single community protection, the Ruko Community, to safeguard them.
The reintroduction of the Baringo giraffe to the island was a difficult operation," recalled Rebby Sebei, head of the Ruko Community Conservancy, "and we put aside our differences to protect this unique species.
But now other threats, those of climate change and lack of respect for the environment, are once again jeopardising their reproduction. Permission to move the giraffes to a purpose-built sanctuary on land was granted by the Kenya Wildlife Service after the lake level began to rise about 15 centimetres a day, transforming the original habitat of the seven giraffes into an increasingly small island with scarce food sources.
This is also why of the last eight cubs born, only two have survived, also due to the presence of many more pythons than in the past.
The operation was set up with a large floating barge, with steel reinforcements and high walls to prevent the animals from trying to jump out while being transported ashore, as one of the most important American nature photographers, Amy Vitale, has documented.
Asiwa is now comfortable in a sanctuary of almost 18 square kilometres where, the KWS reports, she is sufficiently fed and is not afraid of snakes and poaching.
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