Monday, February 16, 2009

Warthogs, eh-phants & giraffe - oh my!

Two of the most affordable ways to get in on the safari tourism around here are the AFEW Giraffe Centre and The Sheldrick Foundation’s Animal Orphanage. You can click on them to read more about their causes, which are fascinating to me. As you may have heard, our kids remembered and loved feeding the giraffe, so it was first on our list of things to do while we’re here. They set up this center to help fund a project to prevent the Rothschild Giraffe from extinction. I’m told they are famous for having no color below the knee, like they are wearing white socks! =)


There are always warthogs running around eating up the crumbs dropped by the giraffe, (like a giraffe could reach…) I’m really not a warthog fan. I can’t seem to find anything remotely cute or interesting there, regardless of what Disney tries. What was God thinking when he fashioned the warthog?

The last few times we’ve been to the Giraffe Centre, there’s been one older female who loves to eat and is always hanging around licking tourist’s hands for pellets (though I’m told she will head-butt anyone coming by without the pellets, and her head is HUGE). Her name is Daisy. We learned that she’s 17 years old and pregnant! I’d be hungry too judging from the size of a baby giraffe – I think they’re born at about 6 feet tall! We could see in the distance 2 other new babies: a female only 1 month old walking around tentatively with Mom, and a male only 5 mos. old starting to eat from trees. Looks like the breeding is working fine and the Rothschild giraffe will still be around.

While we were busy snapping pictures of Joel shoving pellets into Daisy’s sticky gray tongue, Bernie, an 18 month old male came up and took a few handouts by sticking his tongue through the fence. The boys thought that was great. His coloring is quite a bit darker than the others because, the keeper explained, his father’s coloring is darker. As we drove out of the park, we saw who we assume to be his father (much darker coloring than the others) munching away on trees across the road from us!

Then we found our way through the maze of streets (essentially no signs, and certainly no maps) to the edge of the Nairobi National Game Park. Yes, there is a Game Park with wild animals that comes up to the city’s edge. There are fewer and fewer animals seen these days I hear. We went once a few years back and saw water buffalo, ostrich, baboons, monkeys and gazelle I think. Still a fun, though spendy excursion. On the edge there is a gate, again if you know where to look, that opens from 11-12am to allow tourists to come and see the baby elephants and sometimes a rhino that have been orphaned and are being successfully raised and re-introduced to the wild. Very exciting work. Sorry to say, poaching still happens. They have lots of good pictures and stories at the above website.

They have so many baby elephants now that they are split in two groups. The younger ones ranged from 5 mos-18 mos old. The second group was a bit older: 2-2 ½ years old. I could not believe how fast they drank about 3 gallons of soy milk – probably in less than one minute! The keepers explained that soy milk is as close as they can get, seeing as how it would be next to impossible to milk a wild elephant. Good point there. In each group as they travel around the wild together, they have keepers who help them throw dirt on their backs to keep bugs off (like a mama elephant would I guess), etc. How would you like to impersonate a mother elephant for a living? =) Then socially, one of the older females takes the dominant role as the leader and they are eventually released. Exciting really. Hot sun, crowds of people, and oncoming colds got the better of us and we left early. Oh my! It was still fun.

P.S. Friday we drove by the same area and saw a huge warthog on the loose. He was milling around by a bus stop. James laughed and said, “Who would let a warthog on a bus?! Not me!” =) Wish I had my camera for that one!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I can totally hear James saying that. Classic! Feeding the giraffe reminds me of "Cookie Eater". :)