Friday, August 17, 2007

Lang’ata Giraffe Centre

Feeding Mr. Giraffe

During my parent's visit we had the opportunity to visit the Lang’ata Giraffe Centre. The Centre allows patrons to get up close and personal and even kiss (sorry no pictures) the Rothschild giraffe. Although some come just to observe, visitors from all over the world get a unique experience when they hand-feed the world’s tallest species. While there are two other sub-species of giraffes, the Reticulated Giraffe and the Maasai Giraffe, it is the Rothschild Giraffe that is known for it’s lack of spots on it’s legs and so it appears as if it’s wearing four very large white “socks.”

You truly have not seen a giraffe until you have feed one by hand! Their heads are enormous, their very long tongues are like sand paper, and their saliva is gooey and stinky. But it was only after I had washed my hands with hand sanitizer that the guide explained that the giraffe is immune from many poisonous plants by it’s naturally antibiotic saliva! They are no doubt some of the world's most amazing creatures.

I am recalling a joke from my childhood.

Q. What is worse than a giraffe with a sore throat?
A. A centipede with sore feet.


The Giraffe Centre, which is located in Lang’ata, a suburb of Nairobi, was established by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW, Kenya). This organization was founded in 1979 by Jock Leslie-Melvile, a Kenyan of British decent, to protect the endangered Rothschild giraffe and also provide education on the importance of conservation.

Prior to the establishment of the AFEW, Betty Leslie-Melvile, American wife to Jock, discovered that there were only 120 Rothschild giraffes left in Western Kenya. The giraffes were living in an area of 18,000 acres that was scheduled for subdivision and resettlement. She began to rescue these few remaining animals by transporting them to their property in Lang’ata. Betty became the founder of the AFEW, USA. This organization was able to save five more groups of giraffes by moving them to safer areas of the country. Due to their efforts, there are now over 300 Rothschild giraffes living and breeding well in different areas all over Kenya.

No comments: