This is one of Kenya’s good-news conservation stories. In 1979 Jock Leslie-Melville (the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish earl) and his wife, Betty, began raising a baby giraffe in their Langata home. At the time, when their African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) was just getting off the ground, there were no more than 120 Rothschild’s giraffes (which differ from other giraffe subspecies in that there is no patterning below the knee) in the wild. The animals had lost their habitat in Western Kenya, with only 130 of them left on the 18,000-acre Soy Ranch that was being sub-divided to resettle squatters. The Rothschild’s giraffe had been pushed to the brink of extinction in the area.
Betty and Jock then registered A.F.E.W. in the United States. Funds were raised to move five other groups of giraffe to different safe areas. Breeding herds of 26 giraffes were translocated from Soy Ranch to the Ruma Game Reserve in present-day Homa Bay County, Lake Nakuru National Park in Nakuru and Nasolot Game Reserve in modern-day West Pokot County. In 1985, seven giraffes were introduced to Yodder Flower Farm near the Mwea Game Reserve in Mbeere District in Eastern Kenya.