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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 September 2007, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Hungry Zimbabweans target giraffe
A giraffe in Africa (file photo)
Many of the local schoolchildren had never seen a live giraffe before
A giraffe that strayed into a township close to Zimbabwe's capital has been rescued after residents tried to kill it for its meat, local media reported.

The animal was put under police guard before wildlife officers removed it.

A dry spell has forced wild animals into urban areas in search of grazing, animal welfare experts say.

Zimbabwe is suffering chronic food shortages and the animal protection society is investigating claims that a number of pets have been slaughtered.

Huge crowds

It is not known how the stray giraffe ended up in the southern Seke district, Zimbabwe's Herald newspaper said, but police had to restrain those who wanted to kill the animal.

"We had to guard the animal until National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials arrived. Some villagers wanted to slaughter it so we had to remain here until it was taken to a safe place," one of the officers told the Herald.

The tall creature drew huge crowds, including dozens of school children, many of whom had never seen a giraffe.

It was not immediately clear where the giraffe was relocated.

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