To help the endangered Rothschild giraffe, African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya was founded in 1979 by the late Jock and Betty Leslie-Melvile. A Kenyan citizen, Jock wanted to create an educational institution in conjunction while also actively increasing the Rothschild’s population.
To that end, the new organization opened the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi. Still going strong, the center educates thousands of local school children each year about their nation’s natural heritage, raising a new generation of Kenyan conservationists. It also breeds, rehabilitates and releases Rothschilds to protected wildlife areas in various parts of Kenya.
When AFEW started, only 120 Rothschild giraffes lived in the wild. Through breeding and conservation, the Giraffe Centre has helped raise this number to 300 giraffes in five groups across Kenya.
Visiting the Giraffe Centre is an experience like no other. When I went, I got to pet and feed one of the giraffes being rehabilitated there. Some visitors may even get a “kiss of life” —the nice term for getting slobbered on by the giraffe’s blue tongue! Giraffe “kisses” earned this term because giraffe saliva has natural compounds that help fight bacteria and sanitize wounds. This helps their tongues heal quickly from scratches the giraffes get while noshing on thorny acacia bushes.
And in case you were wondering what makes Rothschild giraffes so unique: Unlike other giraffes, Rothschild giraffes are born with five ossicones (horns) on their heads; have orange-brown spots that grow dark at the center as the giraffes age; and lack dark markings on their lower legs, so that some people say it looks like they’re wearing white knee-socks.
Would you like to see giraffes up close in their native lands? Contact me to plan your safari today!