Saving a Baby Rothschild’s Giraffe on Soysambu Conservancy

Just as the sun was slipping behind the Mau Escarpment I received a call that an endangered baby Rothschild’s Giraffe was in distress. I jumped in my car and rushed there with blankets and phoned the Animal Rights Reserved mobile vet unit in Naivasha. They are about an hour or so away so all we could do was keep the baby warm and give comfort.

Gabi and Maddie comforting baby giraffe

Gabi and Maddie comforting baby giraffe

The sun was setting and there were hyenas close by so I asked our Soysambu Conservancy  rangers for assistance. Mike, who has been on the giraffe monitoring team, arrived with the Conservancy vehicle. While we waited for the Vet Unit to arrive the baby become stronger. When the mom came around we moved away hoping the baby could get up with it’s mum’s encouragement. It was just too weak from many hours lying in that position. When the mom moved away we kept it warm and rubbed it’s body and legs, trying to  get some circulation going. It finally lifted it’s head and sat up but still couldn’t stand and we couldn’t get it on it’s feet despite our best efforts.

Baby Giraffe lifts his head

Baby Giraffe lifts his head

The mobile vet unit arrived and immediately went to work getting the baby giraffe on it’s feet and examined it for injuries.

Standing for the first time

Standing for the first time

Examining Legs

examining legs

The Vet decided it was in good shape but had been lying there in the cold for so long it was numb so he massaged it’s limbs. It was amazing how quickly he responded.

Vet Massaging

Feeding milk and glucose

Feeding milk and glucose

The team then mixed a bottle of milk and glucose and after some coaxing he drank two bottles.

Walking without help

With that in him and feeling better he got up on his own and wobbled a bit but took a few steps. We decided to move as far away as possible and still observe with headlights dimmed to let it’s mom reunite with her baby. It was only a few minutes before she came up to him and touched his head and I guess, told him to follow her. She walked a few steps and he didn’t move, so she went back to him and maybe said “come on, there are hyenas about and you better come with me now”. (only my speculation) Well he followed her a few steps and stopped. She turned around and encouraged him again and he followed. Then he was looking for food so they stopped. She moved on and he didn’t follow so she came back, touched his head and he followed. This happened a few more times until they moved on. A little while later the baby sat down, I guess exhausted, and we were worried but he got back up again and followed her into the bush.

We think the mom was in the process of giving birth near the track from Kekopey to Elmenteita and she became spooked by a vehicle so took off running, the baby came out and hit the ground pretty hard. It is a tough birth in the best of circumstances. They usually get up and start feeding in about 45 minutes up to a couple hours. He had some scrapes on his legs and it was some time before he was discovered. The placenta was very close by so we assume this is the scenario.

A HUGE thanks to Animal Rights Reserved for their quick response which resulted in saving the life of an endangered species!!!

Kat Combes, CEO Soysambu Conservancy

July-August news!

We’ve had quite a busy time in here these last two months!

In early July we had a group of people associated with the George Mason Uni (GMU) in America come out to see Suganoi House, the site of the Conservancy’s CREATE (Centre for Research, Environment and Arts Teaching on Elmenteita). We had a great time and the outcomes from the two weeks work were really positive. The research centre once up and running will have a laboratory, art centre museum and library, dorm rooms and tented camping, communal dining room, bar and out door recreation area. All this will be available to groups of researchers, artists, volunteers and anyone else wanting to spend time at the conservancy for work or research! A lot of work to be done and funds to be raised but it can all be done! The GMU folk also kindly donated exercise books, mathematic sets, and soccer balls to both the primary schools on the conservancy, Mbogo and Kiboko Primary- all of which were received very well! Mbogo Primary also had a volunteer, Holly Fagan from England, help with teaching some of the older classes as well as games with the nursery school. Holly had conducted several fundraisers at her school in the UK and was able to raise enough money to support the Mbogo Primary porridge program for the remainder of the year. Well done Holly!

In late July we had Gene Rurka, Chairman for Humanitarian Services of Safari Care International (SCI), spend two weeks out here working with the local communities and Soysambu Conservancy on several projects. SCI donated 50 desks and 5 microscopes to local schools, 100 portable stoves to local families. On top of this the big project was installing a 4600L tank water piping to bring water from a bore-hole on the west of the property to the medical clinic at in Elmenteita village. Soysambu Conservancy, SCI and the people of Elmenteita worked hard for the two weeks, digging and burying 5km of piping, installing fittings and erecting the tank and tank stand. It all paid off in the end, seeing the looks of happiness on the locals faces as the fresh drinking water flowed into the village for the first time!

Elmenteita Clinic

That brings us to August. This month we have 3 volunteers, Kendall Smith has been helping the nurse in the Soysambu Conservancy clinic just near the head office. Shalyn Pack and Allan Turner have been continuing the studies on the Rothschild’s giraffe population. This is helping us to further our understanding of the population dynamics and total number of giraffe we have here – they have confirmed sightings of 42, including one brand new baby! They are also studying the impact the giraffe are having on the acacia trees around the western side of the lake shore- they are stripping bark from the trees which in many cases is ring barking the tree leading to its death. We want to know why this stripping is happening and whether or not it is sustainable to the future of the trees in that area. Alan is also starting to do some monitoring of the lake levels, to get an idea of how fast the water is receding.


This month the CEO Kat Combes house became an animal shelter when we had an injured flamingo named Nekundu (swahili for pink) living with us for a short while. Nekundu had flown into a power line and damaged the nerve in her right leg, so she was unable to stand. She had also had some damage to her left wing. The vet and flamingo expert weighed in with their knowledge, and we fixed Nekundu a delicious mix of bread, spinach and lake algae. Sadly despite all our TLC Nekundu died after five days.

Me feeding Nekundu

So for now we are all keeping busy catching up on office work. We have been getting a little bit of rain each day the last week or so. Hopefully it will keep up as the lake is drying up at a rather alarming rate. All the pelican chicks that have just hatched need the water as a barrier from predators.

The Great White Pelicans