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Baringo Floods Force Translocation of Wild Animals

The Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) in conjunction with Ruko Conservancy and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) have evacuated wild animals like implala, warthogs and ostriches that were stranded at Ruko Island in Lake Baringo after water rose to unprecedented levels.

The NRT director in charge of Natural Resource Management Kieran Avery said they have evacuated the animals to the mainland where they have created a game reserve with an extensive fence to prevent them from mingling with the pastoralist communities thus causing human-wildlife conflict.

Mr Avery who spoke to the press at Ruko Island after overseeing the exercise said they have decided to translocate the endangered species because of reduced food density for the animals who graze and browse heavily on nearby trees.

He noted that crocodiles and hippopotamus have moved closer to their habitat because the water level in the lake has continued to rise every day to the extent of covering most of the wildlife grazing areas.

The director also stated that eight Rothschild Giraffes popularly known as Baringo Giraffes will be evacuated in a month’s time saying that their food is still intact but feared that other hostile animals like the crocodiles and hippopotamus might hinder their long stay and the fact that their territory has significantly been reduced by the natural calamity.

“I am optimistic that by moving the wildlife from the Island to the mainland, the community will still benefit in terms of the shared incomes accruing from tourism activities,” he said.

He noted that the process of translocating the animals has been done in phases because it is a sector that has been benefiting the locals and county government in terms of incomes, revenue and bringing peace amongst the Illchamus, Pokot and Tugen communities.

KWS Veterinary officer based at Ruko Conservancy Dr Mathew Mutinda said that the translocation was informed by the fact that pasture in the small island had drastically reduced and might not be able to sustain the heavy browsers and grazers.

Dr Mutinda added that the process of transiting the game animals through the fresh water lake is a bit challenging because they will have to assemble materials to ferry them through deep waters to the other side of the mainland.

The veterinary officer said that they have already sensitized the receiving communities on the need to co-exist harmoniously with the wild animals during the resettlement process and to avoid harm in case they stray into their farms or homes.

Dr Mutinda also stated the safety of the translocated animals was of paramount importance because they want to grow the endangered species in the next 50 years so that they serve future generations.

Management of Ruko conservancy is in the process of moving out Rothschild giraffes from Ruko Island in Lake Baringo to save them from the threat of rising levels at the lake.

The conservancy which is barely ten years old, hosts impalas, warthogs, zebras, giraffes and ostriches which apart from attracting tourists has also played a big role in bringing lasting peace to local communities.

By Benson Kelio/Joshua Kibet

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