Conservationists rescue a 16-foot Nubian giraffe stranded on a flooding island off of Kenya

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Wildlife conservationists braved crocodile infested waters to rescue a critically endangered Nubian giraffe trapped on a flooding island in Kenya.

The giraffe, named Asiwa, was one of eight stranded due to days on intense rain that cut off access to the mainland, leaving the herd imprisoned on Longicharo Island.

Asiwa was loaded into the barge made of steel and empty drums, with the help of the team, and then transported four miles down the river to safety.

The group intends to rescue the seven remaining giraffes the same way in the next several weeks.

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Wildlife conservationists braved crocodile infested waters to rescue a critically endangered Nubian giraffe trapped on a flooding island in Kenya

The remarkable rescue was organized by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) today joined forces with the US-based non-profit Save Giraffes Now and an African non-government organization.

Conservationists with KWS, Save Giraffes Now and Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) collaborated with local community members to undertake the monumental task of moving the massive animal to Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy, a protected wildlife reserve.

Aswia has been brought to safety, however seven more giraffes’ lives are in limbo.

There are two juvenile females, Susan and Pasaka that are scheduled to be moved later this week.

The giraffe, named Asiwa, was one of eight stranded due to days on intense rain that cut off access to the mainland, leaving the herd imprisoned on Longicharo Island

The giraffe, named Asiwa, was one of eight stranded due to days on intense rain that cut off access to the mainland, leaving the herd imprisoned on Longicharo Island

The giraffe, named Asiwa, was one of eight stranded due to days on intense rain that cut off access to the mainland, leaving the herd imprisoned on Longicharo Island

The boat was is strong enough to hold a massive giraffe and is designed in a fashion that keeps it from escaping

The boat was is strong enough to hold a massive giraffe and is designed in a fashion that keeps it from escaping

The boat was is strong enough to hold a massive giraffe and is designed in a fashion that keeps it from escaping

The four remaining adult females, Nkarikoni, Nalangu, Awala and Nasieku, and one adult male, Lbarnnoti, will be moved early next year.

The area has been plagued with intense rain, which has caused the water level of Lake Baringo, which is surrounding the peninsula, to steadily rising up to six inches a day.

David O’Connor, president of Dallas, Texas-based Save Giraffes Now, said: ‘There is great urgency to execute this rescue.’

‘We couldn’t have asked for a better result, and we’re eager to move the others soon. With giraffe undergoing a silent extinction, every one we can protect matters.’

Asiwa was loaded into the barge made of steel and empty drums, with the help of the team, and then transported four miles down the river to safety

Asiwa was loaded into the barge made of steel and empty drums, with the help of the team, and then transported four miles down the river to safety

Asiwa was loaded into the barge made of steel and empty drums, with the help of the team, and then transported four miles down the river to safety

The group intends to rescue the seven remaining giraffes the same way in the next several weeks

The group intends to rescue the seven remaining giraffes the same way in the next several weeks

The group intends to rescue the seven remaining giraffes the same way in the next several weeks

The animals are Rothschild’s, or Nubian, giraffe, which is a critically endangered 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.

Dr. Patrick Omondi, KWS Director Biodiversity Research and Planning, said: ‘These giraffes are critical to our ongoing efforts to implement the National Giraffe Recovery Strategy 2020-2025.’

‘At Ruko, they’ll be protected from predators, poachers and other threats.’

The giraffe were originally reintroduced to the peninsula in 2011, in hopes that the isolated location would provide shelter from poaching and increase the population in their native Western Kenyan range.

Asiwa boarded a custom-made steel barge, then was taken four miles down the river to the 4,400-acre fenced sanctuary within the Ruko Conservancy.

The barge, build by the Ruko community, is designed and built specifically to carry tall, heavy giraffes.

The barge, build by the Ruko community, is designed and built specifically to carry tall, heavy giraffes. The rectangular steel structure floats atop a series of empty drums and the sides were reinforced to keep the giraffe from jumping out

The barge, build by the Ruko community, is designed and built specifically to carry tall, heavy giraffes. The rectangular steel structure floats atop a series of empty drums and the sides were reinforced to keep the giraffe from jumping out

The barge, build by the Ruko community, is designed and built specifically to carry tall, heavy giraffes. The rectangular steel structure floats atop a series of empty drums and the sides were reinforced to keep the giraffe from jumping out

The giraffe were originally reintroduced to the peninsula in 2011, in hopes that the isolated location would provide shelter from poaching and increase the population in their native Western Kenyan range. Pictured is Asiwa walking on the conservation

The giraffe were originally reintroduced to the peninsula in 2011, in hopes that the isolated location would provide shelter from poaching and increase the population in their native Western Kenyan range. Pictured is Asiwa walking on the conservation

The giraffe were originally reintroduced to the peninsula in 2011, in hopes that the isolated location would provide shelter from poaching and increase the population in their native Western Kenyan range. Pictured is Asiwa walking on the conservation

The rectangular steel structure floats atop a series of empty drums and the sides were reinforced to keep the giraffe from jumping out.

Susan Myers, Save Giraffes Now founder and CEO, said: ‘Each giraffe has its own personality.’

‘Some are very timid, while others are brave and go onto the barge readily. This is a painstaking process, and the team is being very deliberate about the training.’

For years, the local communities of the Baringo Lake region – the Pokot and the Ilchamus tribes – were in deep and often vicious conflict.

Yet the plight of these giraffe worsened to such a degree that the elders of those tribes in these areas (Rugus and Komolion) put years of warfare aside to unite and protect the giraffe.

The area has been plagued with intense rain, which has caused the water level of Lake Baringo, which is surrounding the peninsula, to steadily rising up to six inches a day. David O'Connor, president of Dallas, Texas-based Save Giraffes Now, said: 'There is great urgency to execute this rescue'

The area has been plagued with intense rain, which has caused the water level of Lake Baringo, which is surrounding the peninsula, to steadily rising up to six inches a day. David O'Connor, president of Dallas, Texas-based Save Giraffes Now, said: 'There is great urgency to execute this rescue'

The area has been plagued with intense rain, which has caused the water level of Lake Baringo, which is surrounding the peninsula, to steadily rising up to six inches a day. David O’Connor, president of Dallas, Texas-based Save Giraffes Now, said: ‘There is great urgency to execute this rescue’

Conservancy rangers have been taking supplemental food to the island for them, as well as conducting routine health checks

Conservancy rangers have been taking supplemental food to the island for them, as well as conducting routine health checks

Conservancy rangers have been taking supplemental food to the island for them, as well as conducting routine health checks

Mike Parkei, a ranger at Ruko Conservancy, said: ‘These giraffe are the heart of our homeland.

‘We knew we had to come together and do everything possible to save them.’ 

As the lake water slowly claimed the peninsula, the giraffe were forced onto a shrinking slice of land on which to forage. 

Conservancy rangers have been taking supplemental food to the island for them, as well as conducting routine health checks. 

Nkarikoni is also pregnant, seven months into a 15-month gestation and officials hope she will give birth at Ruko Conservancy.

‘In 40 to 50 years, we hope to have repopulated the entire Western Rift Valley through the chain of community conservancies,’ O’Connor said. ‘It’s unthinkable to imagine an Africa without giraffes, and this rescue may well help ensure the future of this species.’

In a trial run for the larger move, several other animals were recently relocated to Ruko, including two rather aggressive ostriches and a handful of impala and warthogs.

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