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OUTDOOR AREAAmi Vitale
A Daring Giraffe Rescue

Rothschild’s giraffes are a subspecies of the northern giraffe, and are classified as endangered. The giraffe is the world’s tallest land mammal and the Rothschild’s giraffe is one of the loftiest subspecies, growing up to six meters in height.
Longicharo Island, in Kenya, was once a peninsula. Rising water levels in Lake Baringo over the past ten years have cut the peninsula off to form an island. Particularly heavy rainfall in 2019 caused further floods, stranding nine giraffes.
The local community worked with conservationists from the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Northern Rangelands Trust, and Save Giraffes Now, to build a barge and transport the marooned animals to a sanctuary in the Ruko conservancy on the shores of the lake.

The rains had also led to an abundance of food on the island, so edible treats could not be used to entice the giraffes onto the barge. Instead, the giraffes had to be tranquilized, which is a dangerous procedure given their anatomy, as they are at risk of choking on their own saliva, and changes in blood pressure can cause brain damage. A vet was on hand to immediately counteract the drug; the animals were then hooded and led onto the barge with guide ropes.
There are fewer than 3,000 Rothschild’s giraffes left in Africa, and about 800 left in Kenya. They are some of the most endangered giraffes in the world, which means that rescue operations like the one conducted, are critical for the survival of species.

Nikon Ambassador and National Geographic Magazine photographer, writer and filmmaker Ami Vitale has traveled to more than 100 countries, bearing witness not only to violence and conflict, but also to surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. Throughout the years, Ami has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and donned a panda suit— keeping true to her belief in the importance of “living the story.” In 2009, after shooting a powerful story on the transport of one the world’s last northern white rhinos from the Dvur Králové zoo, in the Cheque Republic to the Ol Pejeta Sanctuary, in Kenya, Ami shifted her focus to today’s most compelling wildlife and environmental stories.
Her photographs have been commissioned by nearly every international publication and exhibited around the world in museums and galleries. She is a founding member of Ripple Effect Images, an organization of renowned female scientists, writers, photographers and filmmakers working together to create powerful and persuasive stories that shed light on the hardships women in developing countries face and the programs that can help them. She is chair of the Photographers Advisory Board for National Geographic and also on the Photojournalism Advisory Council for The Alexia Grants.
Instyle Magazine named Ami one of fifty Badass Women, a series celebrating women who show up, speak up and get things done. She appeared alongside a group of incredible women including Jane Goodall, Christiane Amanpour and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has been named Magazine photographer of the year in the International Photographer of the Year prize, received the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting and named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographer’s Association, among others. She is a five-time recipient of World Press Photos, including 1st Prize for her 2018 National Geographic magazine story about a community in Kenya protecting elephant; 1st Prize for her work with giant pandas and 1st Prize for her 2019 CNN magazine story about the Rothschild giraffes.
She recently published a best-selling book, Panda Love, on the secret lives of pandas.
She has just released her new short film, Shaba, about the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary’s first matriarch elephant and the extraordinary bonds she formed with a herd of baby orphaned elephants and the people who rescued her.
Currently based in Montana, Ami Vitale is a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine and frequently gives workshops throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.

amivitale.com

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