Giraffes, zebras and oryx are now a common sight at the Par-72 PGA Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge, Kilifi County, as the venue hosts the 2022 Ladies European Tour season opener: the Magical Kenya Ladies Open.
This new addition to Vipingo Ridge follows the commissioning of the property as a wildlife sanctuary in 2020, offering refuge to animals facing challenges due to drought or human/animal conflict. The 2,500 acre protected estate has become a new home to waterbuck, zebra, impala, eland, Grant’s gazelle, bushbuck and oryx – all part of a “space for wildlife” conservation project under the auspices of the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Since the animals’ arrival in 2020, two oryx, six impalas, four waterbucks, one eland and one zebra have been born, proof that the animals have settled in well and are thriving in this lush environment.
In November last year, Vipingo received two baby orphaned giraffes – Valentine and Naikoroi – from Samburu in northern Kenya, from where they were rescued due to drought. Valentine, a male giraffe, is now one year old, having been found on Valentine’s Day 2021 hence the name.
Naikorori is a younger female giraffe that is only nine months old. Her name is after a village in the area where she was rescued. They were first homed at the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, a community-owned and run sanctuary, and then translocated south to Vipingo Ridge, where they were cared for.
The young giraffes were fed milk by bottle every day by Vipingo’s team of rangers at first but now have been weaned off and eat the indigenous plants that grow on the Ridge.
A team of 12 resident rangers that work closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service are stationed at Vipingo Ridge, where they stay with the animals and protect them from harm.
Commenting on the wildlife, Vipingo Ridge Chairman Alastair Cavenagh said:
“The wildlife here has significantly elevated the experience at Vipingo Ridge, especially for golfers, as oryx, zebra and water buck often wander the fairways, making this a truly unique place to play. We are so glad that these beautiful animals can be a part of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open and the feedback from all the players and guests this week has been fantastic. It is an extraordinary thing to be playing golf with the Indian Ocean in the background as a giraffe walks past. We must thank our team of rangers for working round the clock to ensure the safety of the wildlife and the Kenya Wildlife Service for the opportunity to set up a sanctuary here in Vipingo.”