Stuck on an island surrounded by a flooding lake filled with crocodiles, eight giraffes faced a big challenge that would worry even James Bond.
However, government officials, conservationists and local community members of Kenya’s Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy made very swift plans to construct a “giraffe-raft” to help in ferrying them across the lake and get them to safety.
The giraffes, who were transported here safely back in 2011, were well fed and kept healthy by rangers traveling to the river through boats. With the horizon experiencing more flooding, authorities came to a conclusion that with the island shrinking on a daily basis, there was a big threat to the lives of these valuable animals.
As one of the largest of their species, building the giraffe-raft was no gaff. It would have to be a strong craft—balanced fore and aft.
Rothschild’s giraffes can stand up to 20 feet tall (5.8 meters) and weigh up to 2,500 pounds (1,133 kilograms). Furthermore, their high center of gravity meant that it would be particularly dangerous to keep them upright in a boat, especially if the sight of a crocodile got them spooked.
For some months, this rescue raft was introduced to the giraffes until Asiwa (an adult female) was sedated and blindfolded by the team and made the trip without any problems.
Gizmodo had an email exchange with David O’Connor, President of Save Giraffes Now, a non-profit that participated in the daring rescue, who said:
The rectangular steel structure was designed and built specifically to carry tall, heavy giraffe. The barge floats atop a series of empty drums, for buoyancy. Reinforced sides kept Asiwa from jumping out as the barge was gently maneuvered by boats.David O’Connor
Now on dry land, Asiwa with other giraffes will be housed and protected in a special 4,400-acre reservation that has a high and secure fencing, protecting them from poachers and predators.