BENDING GIANTS. When you grab an opportunity to feed the graceful giants, do it it, writes EDGAR R. BATTE
In its towering nature, the giraffe remains a graceful giant. The most wildlife lovers ever get close to it are photographs and videos. The Giraffe Centre in Nairobi gets you get up-close with the giraffe in feeding sessions. They will reach out with their long tongues for some crunchy snacks, making for some photographic moments. The experience is next to none and you might find yourself spending three hours or so.
And for the little ones, this was the moment they wish went on and on. As the tourists fed the giraffes, the pupils enjoyed the sight of the tongues popping out every now and again.
They giggle, and while at it, the teacher is joined by the tour guide who offers them snacks so that they can feed the giraffes too. Cheekily, they hold out the snacks and soon the giraffe reaches out to feed.
Excitedly, in fetes of shouting out loud, their peers encourage them on with clapping and ululations. The thrill about feeding a giraffe is the rough edges of its tongue which turns ticklish as it feeds out of your palm.
The giraffes co-exist with warthogs as a form of protecting them from predators. The warthogs are a forgetful lot which makes them easy prey, meal, if you like, to prowling fellow wild animals.
Nairobi has offerings in different places but wildlife in the middle of the city is astonishing because it gives you the option of seeing it without having to drive for hours in anticipation.
There is Nairobi National Park, the Elephant Orphanage and The Giraffe Centre, all within reach. At the centre, the tour guides are knowledgeable and openly share information about giraffes.
There are different types. You will find some of it on the centre’s website. The Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) Kenya was founded in 1979 by the late Jock Leslie-Melville, a Kenyan citizen of British descent, and his American-born wife, Betty Leslie-Melville.
They began the Giraffe Centre after discovering the sad plight of the Rothschild Giraffe. A subspecies of the giraffe found only in the grasslands of East Africa,” reads history of the centre on its online platform.
It is open every day from 9am to 5pm. Non-resident adult part with $10, non-resident children $5, resident adults KShs250, resident children KShs50 and free for school groups if they book one week in advance.
Remember to carry a valid identity card. Proceeds from entry fees go towards the conservation education work with students and teachers across Kenya.
On my recent visit, I got a chance to meet a Ugandan at the centre who serves as a security guard. As I chatted with a friend, she joined in as she went about her job of searching visitors at the security check point.