1st Prize Singles, Nature

03 December 2020

Ami Vitale, United States

for CNN

Rescue of Giraffes from Flooding Island

A Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) is transported to safety in a custom-built barge from a flooded Longicharo Island, Lake Baringo, Kenya, 3 December.

Rothschild’s giraffes are a subspecies of the northern giraffe, and are classified as endangered. Longicharo Island was once a peninsula. Rising water levels in Lake Baringo over the past ten years have cut it off to form an island. Particularly heavy rainfall in 2019 caused further floods, stranding nine giraffes. The local community worked with conservationists to build the barge and transport the animals to a sanctuary in the Ruko conservancy on the shores of the lake. The giraffes had to be tranquilized, which is a danger given their anatomy: they are at risk of choking on their own saliva, and changes in blood pressure can cause brain damage. A vet was on hand to immediately counteract the drug. The animals were then hooded and led onto the barge with guide ropes.

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