ICONIC SPECIES

Kenya Power replaces poles after death of three giraffes

Electric poles are hanging so low, posing danger to giraffes

In Summary

• Two males of Rothschild's species were electrocuted on Friday morning,  while one more died at the same point on Saturday.

• KWS said its representatives visited the conservancy and found that the height of electricity poles crossing the conservancy is low, below giraffes height

Engineers replacing the short electric poles at Soysambu Conservancy. Image:Courtesy.
Engineers replacing the short electric poles at Soysambu Conservancy. Image:Courtesy.

Kenya Power engineers on Monday replaced the short electric poles that led to the electrocution of three giraffes at Soysambu Conservancy.

The electrocution brought to 11 the number of giraffes that have been killed so far.

Two males of Rothschild's species were electrocuted on Friday morning, while one more died at the same point on Saturday.

Mature giraffes range between 14-18 feet tall meaning it can peep  through the second floor of  storey building.

The Kenya Wildlife Service in a statement on Sunday evening said officials from Kenya Power had assessed the situation following an outcry over the death of the giraffes.

"At the same time, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Hon. Najib Balala is engaging the Energy Cabinet Secretary Hon. Charles Keter on the same for a lasting solution," KWS corporate communications said in the statement.

Hyenas feed on one of the carcasses
Hyenas feed on one of the carcasses

KWS admitted that its representatives visited the conservancy and found that the height of electricity poles crossing the conservancy is low, below giraffes' height.

A source who requested anonymity on Sunday said the third giraffe to be electrocuted had gone to the spot where the first two had died.

"We believe it went to that spot after getting a smell of blood," the source said.

The source said that the first two carcasses had been moved from the power lines to avoid vultures hovering around from being electrocuted.

Giraffes coming to mourn at the spot were also at risk of being electrocuted.

"We have been urging the Kenya Power team from Gilgil to come and address the power issues but they have not," she said.

She added that 150 of the endangered species are in the conservancy, representing 10 per cent in the world.

There are four species of the animal, three are found in Kenya. These are the reticulated giraffe also known as the Somali giraffe (15,524), Rothschild’s giraffe (609), and the Masai giraffe (12,717).

The latest tragedy happened even as the government last year said it would use all means to protect them and allow their population to grow.

“This animal is beautiful. Unfortunately, we have slightly above 100,000 giraffes in the world. In Kenya, we have about 29,000 giraffes,” Balala said during World Giraffe Day last year as he pledged to protect them.

The species' specimens are traded internationally and have declined by 36 to 40 per cent over the past three decades due to habitat loss and other pressures.

Giraffes mourning their loved one
Giraffes mourning their loved one

Giraffes are also facing slow deaths as a result of the thriving bushmeat.

Their body parts and hides are also sold in domestic and international markets.

On August 22, 2019, they were given more protection under laws protecting iconic species following resolutions passed at the 18th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species .

In 2018, a giraffe recovery plan was launched with the aim of addressing some of the challenges facing the species.

Balala said the government in 2019 made a spirited effort by giving the giraffe more protection.

He said almost 112 giraffes are hosted at Nairobi National Park.