A frightened baby giraffe struggled for four hours in the dangerous Ewaso Ng’iro river before a group of courageous people came together to rescue the tired youngster.
It all happened in Kenya. After seeing the poor thing would be unable to free itself, several men braved the rushing waters to come to its aid. Armed with machetes, they hacked away at the underwater branches ensnaring the calf’s legs and then helped it to reach land safely.
The story was reported by Facebook user Baba Sue. Sue is involved with local wildlife rangers and their conservation efforts.
“Guys wildlife is our GOLD,” Sue wrote. “Love our wildlife.”
The giraffe would have certainly perished without human help. The river’s name, Ewaso Ng’iro or Uaso Nyiro, is derived from the local community’s language and means the river of brown or muddy water. It is not unusual for animals or people to be surprised, and possibly ensnared, by debris hidden beneath its murky surface.
“Marvelous rescue mission, congrats great friend of samburu wildlife Mr. Baba Sue and team,” one commenter wrote.
Every giraffe counts, as the continental population of the unique long–necked beasts has declined by nearly half since 1999. At that time, the estimated wild numbers of the nine subspecies combined was 140,000; today, it has dropped to 80,000.
Thus far, this young giraffe has been lucky. Only about 50 percent of giraffe calves born actually reach their first birthday, with most falling prey to hyenas, wild dogs, leopards or lions. Lions may also kill an adult while it is awkwardly drinking, but in general their biggest killers are humans.
Poaching and big game hunting are threats to all African wildlife, but a conservation mentality is growing as communities come to appreciate their unique regional fauna. While poaching may bring a lot of money to one person, wildlife tourism is a sustainable industry in areas that might have little else in the way of marketable resources.
“RESOURCE PROTECTION/SAFETY IS UR RESPONSIBLY” wrote another commenter on Sue’s page.
The arid region where the young giraffe was rescued has little in the way of rainfall. Both wildlife and human populations owe their existence to the water of the Ewaso Ng’iro, which has a continuous flow thanks to melting glaciers on Mount Kenya.
Elephants and African buffalo also roam the area, as well as several types of desert antelope such as the gerenuk and the oryx.
Of the three varieties of giraffe living in Kenya, the Rothschild’s is one of the most endangered, with fewer than 400 left in the wild. Kenya also hosts the reticulated giraffe and the Masai giraffe. Vistors quickly learn to tell the three apart by their markings. The reticulated has sharp-edged spots with very white borders, while the other two have jagged spots with creamy borders. The Masai has spots all the way down to its hooves, while the Rothschild’s appears to be wearing cream-colored stockings.
Like all giraffe calves, this one was born with its “horns.” A giraffe’s horns are actually calcified cartilage called ossicones. Unlike a deer’s antlers, which are covered in temporary “velvet” during growth, the ossicones are covered in actual skin and fur, just like the rest of the giraffe.
There are many curiosities about this most unusual and unique animal, but one thing is not curious: Like goodhearted people everywhere, a group of humans saw a baby in distress, and they came to its aid.
Thanks to all who were involved in the rescue, and may they live to see this sweet youngster grow tall on the neighboring savanna to enjoy a long and happy life.