It started as a routine report of a routine sighting: “Three adult male giraffes walking near Ilchalai area at 10:43 am.” Big Life’s rangers call in all animal sightings on patrol, and this was just another record for the database.

Except something was not right. The oxpecker birds were unusually fixated on one of the giraffes.

Injury? Likely. Snare? Too thick. The rangers drove closer to investigate and saw what appeared to be the inner ring of a motorbike tire tight around one of the giraffe’s necks. It was slicing through the skin, and the deepening wound had become a buffet for the oxpeckers.

Immediate intervention was required. The radio call was modified to an emergency alert to the KWS Amboseli vet to remove the tire.

The injured giraffe’s two companions loomed skeptically while our rangers worked with the KWS vet team (who are funded by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust) to get the giraffe on the ground, cut its noose, disinfect the wound, and help him back on his feet.

While encouraging to know this wasn’t a snare, the tire was likely thrown onto the giraffe by herders as entertainment. This highly unusual incident underlines the importance of our extensive ranger patrols, which ensure hundreds of pairs of eyes are monitoring every corner of the ecosystem for potential problems and speedy solutions when needed.

As ever, we are grateful to our partners for their speedy response and collaboration in helping to save this giraffe from a slow and painful death.

Photos: Constable Daniel Kutata