From Farm Invader to Beloved Camp Resident: The Story of the Late Kiwete

Upon arriving at our camp, you are likely to be welcomed by a limping adult female giraffe named Kiwete. Despite her apparent disability, she is a resilient survivor of the conflict between farmers and giraffes along the Tana River. Kiwete was once among the frequent farm invaders, from the Garissa Giraffe Sanctuary who intensified farm invasions due to the worsening drought situation in 2020. But one fateful night, her troubles caught up with her when she found herself cornered by angry farm laborers in Bour Algy Area.

They knew her as a troublemaker and a serial invader, and they bayed for her blood. Thankfully, the Garissa Giraffe Sanctuary Rangers, together with our camp staff and Kenya Wildlife Service officers, were alerted and rushed to Kiwete’s aid. The KWS officers shot in the air to disperse the angry mob and managed to save the helpless giraffe. However, Kiwete had already fractured one of her hind legs while attempting to flee by jumping over an irrigation canal. After waiting for Kiwete to calm down, the rescue team escorted her to our nearby Camp, where she became a permanent resident and the first beneficiary of our supplementary feeding program. Due to the lack of a permanently stationed
Wildlife Vet Unit in Garissa, efforts to treat her the next day were futile. However, we eventually invited a team of Meru Wildlife Vets who assessed her and assured us that she would survive her injuries.

As other giraffes came and went, Kiwete remained at our camp, limping around and endearing herself to our staff and guests alike. Even the famers who once hated her, came to visit her frequently at the camp and this was a clear sign that despite the negative impacts of the farmers-giraffe conflict there was no love lost between the locals and giraffes. But on that tragic morning of March 22nd, one of our staff members found Kiwete lying dead. We still do not know the cause of her death, but one thing is for sure – life at our camp will never be the same without her.

Kiwete’s legacy lives on in our hearts, a symbol of resilience and survival in the face of adversity. We will always remember her as a brave and beloved member of our camp, a reminder of the precious giraffes of Garissa.

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