* Roughly 240 giraffes in eastern Kenya, threatened by habitat destruction and poaching, are in desperate need of water and a safe place to live – you can help them!
* Severe and persistent drought in eastern Kenya and Somalia is putting pressure on giraffes and all wildlife in the region
* We are seeking $8,000 to address these issues. Donate today and you’ll be contributing to a small but dedicated group of Kenyan conservationists protecting biodiversity in extreme circumstances
We are raising money to protect roughly 240 unprotected reticulated giraffes in drought-ridden eastern Kenya. From 2007 until October 2010, these giraffes lived on a 70 square mile/180 square km sanctuary where they had access to water, food, protection from poachers and guaranteed habitat. However, due to the sanctuary’s inability to cover expenses for water, the giraffes no longer reside in the sanctuary. They are currently scattered throughout the surrounding area; they must walk between their feeding grounds and a river from where they drink, leaving them exposed and vulnerable to poaching, accidental injury or death by vehicle traffic or animal traps.
There is currently a $5,600 outstanding water bill that needs to be paid to resume water service for the giraffes, allowing them to return to the sanctuary; a further $2,400 will ensure sufficient funds to cover water for the next 12 months while longer-term solutions are found.
I saw the giraffes in person on my last trip to Kenya in March 2011. They are beautiful, majestic creatures, and quite curious (but not afraid) of human visitors. I took a tour of the now virtually wildlife-free sanctuary and then afterwards out to see where the giraffes were feeding at the time. We also witnessed the destruction of their natural habitat which threatens to cut off their access to the river from their current feeding grounds. Once water is restored to the sanctuary, they will once again be safe as they will not stray far from reliable water sources.
Who is Helping the Giraffes
A local NGO called the Bouralgy Community Giraffe Sanctuary (director Hassan Affey), consisting of local conservationists who became concerned about the dwindling number of animals in the area, has been responsible for giraffes and other wildlife in the region since 1989. By 2007, the registered organization successfully lobbied the local government to allocate land for the sanctuary. Members of the NGO and volunteers operated the sanctuary until 2010 when revenue from visitor gate fees became insufficient to cover the expenses for providing the giraffes with water necessary for their survival. The sanctuary was largely left to generate its own revenue since the Kenyan government has no budget from which to allocate resources to protect wildlife in the area, though the local government is very supportive of the NGO’s efforts. Due to the insecure security situation, international tourism is virtually non-existent. In 2009 the Millennium Village Project funded the construction of a main entry gate and water troughs but has not provided further assistance.
The Bourlagy Community Giraffe Sanctuary
In addition to giraffes, the sanctuary also provides a home to various other creatures indigenous to eastern Kenya, including nearly 30 impalas, a type of extremely threatened Hirola antelope (classified as a critically endangered species: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hirola), dik-diks (a small member of the antelope family 12" – 16" high http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dikdik), among others. The provision of water for the sanctuary will greatly contribute to the protection of biodiversity in a region where government of Kenya services and other well-organized, large-scale conservation efforts are virtually non-existent.
Vision for the Sanctuary
The sanctuary is a place from which immense opportunities can emerge. In addition to protecting the wildlife and environment, it can be used to educate the local population on the importance of conservation while at the same time providing a place for recreation. Local craftsman and artisans could set up a small market on the premises to market their work, creating a source of income for themselves with some percentage of the proceeds allocated toward the sanctuary. The establishment of camp sights in yet another way in which revenue may be generated.
A portion of the funds raised will also go towards paying for the services of a local consultant who will work with Hassan to develop a business plan that will put the sanctuary on the path to financial independence. The sanctuary can once again be marketed to locals who will pay modest gate fees to drive in the sanctuary, and the growing number of international development specialists may also be attracted to the site since there are virtually no other tourist facilities in the area. In the medium-term, while the business plan is being refined and implemented, we will write a proposal to shop around to various conservation agencies such as the World Wildlife Fund. If anyone has any contacts or connections at a relevant conservation agency or organization, please email me at the address below.
Pledgie.com takes 3% from every donation to sustain their business. Donated funds will be deposited into Marco’s PayPal account, after which the funds will then be transferred to a bank account in Garissa, Kenya. Both Hassan Affey and my CNFA colleagues Haji Mahamoud and Dr. Francis Chabari (the senior ranking CNFA employee in Kenya) are involved to ensure proper oversight of funds. Haji and Hassan are mandatory signatories on the bank account.
Thank you for your interest and support! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.