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.