Three threatened giraffes in Kenya were electrocuted to death over the weekend after walking into low-lying electric power transmission lines at a local conservancy.
ABC News reported that the Kenya Power and Lighting Company announced Monday that the deaths occurred at the Soysambu Conservancy in western Kenya, adding that all three of the animals killed were Rothschild's giraffes, one of the rarest giraffe subspecies.
The statement from the company, which powers most of the electricity lines and distribution systems in the country, followed an announcement from the Kenya Wildlife Service that said that two giraffes were killed in the incident on Sunday.
The power and lighting company said Monday that it has begun "the process of enhancing the clearance of the electricity distribution infrastructure at Soysambu Conservancy" and also plans to work with the country’s wildlife service, the conservancy and other groups to audit the entire infrastructure of the approximately 48,000-acre conservation area "to make any other rectifications that may be required."
According to ABC News, Bernard Ngugi, managing director and CEO of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company, said in a statement Monday that company officials “regret this incident because we recognize that wildlife forms an integral part of our natural and cultural psyche.”
"Ensuring that we adhere to the highest forms of safety in all our undertakings, is a prerequisite for us,” Ngugi added. “We thus take any electricity-related accidents seriously and we will use the lessons gleaned to avoid a reoccurrence of the same."
Many took to social media following the Sunday incident to vocalize their outrage over the deaths, including Kenyan conservationist Paula Kahumbu, who tweeted that expert advice on the danger of power lines to animals was previously “ignored” and that the electricity lines have been killing giraffes, vultures and flamingoes.
These power lines have been killing giraffe, vultures abd flamingies. Advice from experts was ignored. RIAs are notoriously poor on many development projects. Sad that it takes these kinds of deaths to wake some people up! https://t.co/8iV3ZqCg1j— Dr. Paula Kahumbu (@paulakahumbu) February 21, 2021
Kahumbu also shared images of three lifeless giraffes that she said were the ones that were electrocuted Sunday, writing in a tweet, “These distressing photos of endangered Rothschilds giraffe killed on power line in Soysambu today have troubled people around t/ world. No delay. Pls take urgent action. Giraffes are endangered.”
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the Rothschild's giraffe in 2010 was characterized as “endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, though this was later improved to “near threatened” as a result of population increases following a series of conservation efforts by African governments and wildlife organizations.
The Kenya Wildlife Service states that there are currently about 609 Rothschild's giraffes out of the total 28,850 giraffes in the African country.