3 near-threatened giraffes electrocuted by power lines in Kenyan conservation area

Three near-threatened Rothschild giraffes died over the weekend when they walked into low power lines in a conservation area in Kenya, according to officials.

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The incident happened at Soysambu Conservancy, officials with The Kenya Power and Lighting Company said Monday in a news release. The conservancy, which spreads over 48,000 acres in the country’s Great Rift Valley, is home to at least 130 giraffes and thousands of other wildlife.

“We regret this incident because we recognize that wildlife forms an integral part of our natural and cultural psyche,” said Bernard Ngugi, the managing director and CEO of Kenya Power. “Ensuring that we adhere to the highest forms of safety in all our undertakings is a prerequisite for us.”

Officials with the Kenya Wildlife Service said Sunday that a preliminary report indicated the electricity poles were set too low at Soysambu Conservancy. On Monday, officials with Kenya Power said they raised the power poles at the site of Sunday’s electrocution. Officials were examining other power lines to ensure they were above the height of area giraffes.

According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, about 28,850 giraffes live in Kenya, of which only about 610 are Rothschild giraffes. In 2018, the most recent year for which data was available, the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimated that about 1,400 Rothschild giraffes lived in Uganda and Kenya.

The IUCN classified Rothschild giraffes as endangered in 2010. In 2018, officials upgraded the giraffes to near-threatened status as populations began to increase.

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