Lake Baringo in western Kenya has been the home of eight Rothschild’s giraffe for years. They lived on a peninsula that reached out into the lake, but rising waters turned it into an island. The giraffes needed to be moved to a new home in the 44,000-acre Ruko Conservancy. That's a big project, involving a custom-built barge, but how do you get the animals onto the boat? David O’Connor of the organization Save Giraffes Now tells us of the hurdles they faced.
The initial hope, O’Connor said, was that they’d be able to coax the giraffes onto the barge by putting mangoes and other treats there. But because of the rainy season, there’s been an abundance of food on the island. The treats would not be enough.
That meant the giraffes would have to be hit with a tranquilizer dart — and that is an especially dangerous proposition because of their anatomy. O’Connor said that when giraffes go down on the ground, they can choke on their own saliva, or their brains can be damaged by the changes in blood pressure. So it’s important that once the giraffe falls, a vet is there to immediately counteract the drug with a reversal drug.
“It's not like an elephant or a rhino where you just dart it, it flops over and it's fine,” he said. “The giraffes, they're kind of like a Formula One car. You can't mess with their innards too much or they really have problems.”