Mara the giraffe in profile. One of her ears is missing.

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Mara's Return

Mara the giraffe looks at you from the bush

Lovely Mara is thriving today.

Mara is an amazing conservation success story. Mara (which means “spotted” in some African languages) is a reticulated giraffe now roaming freely within the breathtaking Namunyak Conservancy in northern Kenya. But life was not always as carefree and joyous for the young giraffe.

Mara and a friend stand in the bush

After recovering from a severe injury to her ear, Mara was re-released back into the wild, and has since joined a herd!

In 2016, when Mara was just a few months old, her ear was badly injured. Rushing to her aid, community members brought her to Sarara Camp, a community-led ecocamp in Namunyak Conservancy. There, with support from SDZG, an impromptu giraffe orphanage within the Sarara Camp horse stables sprang up and people rallied into action to care for her. Mara was cared for and raised by amazing individuals like Lekupanii, the “orphan whisperer,” as he has come to be known.

Lekupanii feeds Mara and another orphaned baby giraffe

Lekupanii, the “orphan whisperer,” feeds Mara and another orphaned baby giraffe.

Due to the amazing work of Sarara, and the local individuals that stepped into save Mara, she has now been successfully re-wilded and even more amazingly, she has even joined a wild herd! Seeing this animal that was saved from a terrible fate is a perfect illustration of community and conservation coming together to make a positive difference for local wildlife.

Now free to roam wherever she pleases, from time to time, Mara still returns to the Sarara stables to check in with her caregivers. Mara has even made some cameo appearances on the trail cameras that are managed by the Twiga Walinzi initiative! You can help classify photos and protect animals like Mara through Wildwatch Kenya, our virtual guardian program.

Mara greets Jenna

Mara the giraffe greets Jenna, a San Diego Zoo Global Scientist.

Mara’s story is a hopeful one, but many other giraffes are not as fortunate. Her plight and recovery highlights the critical need to work alongside local communities to share the benefits of conservation and the challenges giraffes face across Africa. Now, everyone can help!

You can be part of the solution for saving reticulated giraffes by helping us classify field photos collected at two conservancies in northern Kenya. Visit Wildwatch Kenya for a quick orientation and access to our photos from motion-activated cameras. You’ll see the lion’s share of Kenya’s wildlife, including giraffes. Our goal is to finish this set of 257,000 images by the end of the year.

Together, we can do it!

A close-up of Mara

After suffering an injury to her ear early in life, Mara is thriving now, and occasionally returns to the Sarara stables to check in with her caregivers.