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In Kenya, giraffes take a rare cruise

February 11, 2011|By Chris Erskine | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • Giraffes travel by barge to their new home in Kenya.
Giraffes travel by barge to their new home in Kenya. (The Safari and Conservation…)

Which one is Melman? In a scene out of a DreamWorks movie, eight giraffes this week were barged back to their native area in what organizers say may be the first-ever attempt to carry giraffes across water in Kenya.

The giraffes, divided into two groups, were loaded onto a restored landing craft at Soysambu Conservancy in the Great Rift Valley for their 90-minute journey to  the Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy in the Lake Baringo region. At their new home Sunday, the animals were released into a holding pen for one week to allow them to adjust to their new environment.

Prior to their relocation, the giraffes had been captured and spent weeks in a holding pen to make sure they were calm enough for the trip. Officials at the  Northern Rangelands Trust, which helped arrange the trip, said giraffes are among the most difficult animals to move. They join a herd of 30 impala already successfully relocated to the region last year.

The project took four years to plan. It was supported and executed by the trust and the Safari and Conservation Co. which owns Samatian Island Lodge, a luxury camp situated on a private island in Lake Baringo, one of Kenya’s major lakes and famed for its bird life. The trust facilitates community-led conservation efforts in Kenya.

Stunt or conservation milestone? Maybe a little of both.  The Baringo Giraffe is a sub-species that has not existed in its native area of Lake Baringo for more than 70 years, organizers say.

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