Rothschild Giraffe on Lake Baringo12/05/2020
Subsequent to the Roberts living in Baringo and David and Betty having their home on the mainland, Willy Roberts bought Samatian Island when he started a lodge called Island Camp in the early 1970’s. Samatian has subsequently been taken over by Willy’s daughter Caroline and husband Ross. In 2012 , together with NRT they worked on reintroducing eight Rothchild’s Giraffe back to Baringo, almost 70 years since they were last seen the area. And they did so in style, travelling by boat to ‘Giraffe Island’, another island on Lake Baringo, in Ruko Community Conservancy.
A survey in 2016 found that nearly 40% of Africa’s giraffe population had been wiped out in one generation. With fewer than 97,562 of all nine subspecies left, they are now listed ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Moving giraffe to Ruko Conservancy in 2012 was the start of a longterm plan to re populate the Baringo area with Rothchild’s giraffe (also known as ‘Baringo giraffe’) – with indigenous communities leading the way.
Ruko is currently home to seven giraffe (six females and one male). One calf was born in April 2019 and is doing well, however the four other calves born over the past two years have not survived: one fell victim to a python just after birth, and the others likely died due to nutritional deficiencies.
The giraffe’s island home is shrinking after several years of rising water levels in Lake Baringo. The conservancy have had to invest in supplementary food as there is not enough browse on the island — as well as being unsustainable and expensive, the conditions are also affecting the health and breeding potential of the animals. Approval from the Kenya Wildlife Service has been granted to move the giraffes to the mainland, and a management plan for a new Ruko Giraffe Sanctuary on the mainland has been developed and there is ongoing fundraising in order to do this. Fuzz Dyer (Director of SCC) together with NRT, is currently at Lake Baringo working on the plan to relocate these giraffe to the new Ruko Giraffe Sanctuary.