Let’s talk Eco-therapy

Eco therapy

The other day I was browsing the internet looking for tips on mindfulness and meditation because hearsay has it that the two help rid us of bad energy and makes us whole again. I admit to being a curious individual in nature and trying out new things is sort of my life’s desideratum. So I kept digging from site to site and came across the concept of Forest Bathing.  Forest Bathing, despite its name,  doesn’t involve anything to do with water. Such a bummer, right? For a second, I was entertaining the idea of going skinny dipping in the woods.

So what is forest bathing you might ask?

Forest Bathing, also known as Shinrin-yoku in Japan, is a practise that was first developed in Japan around the 1980s by physicians to help patients improve their health and well being. I don’t know if you know this, but Japan is one of those counties in the world with a strict set of rules for anything and everything. So even though people have been roaming the forests since time immemorial, Japan just had to come up with instructions on how to do the walking while practising Shinrin-yoku.  Because we are all for healing souls and having green time,  I will be your very own Yoga sensei and take you through the process of forest bathing.

The first step is to find yourself a forest with a thick canopy, great news we have one right here at the giraffe centre. As you move into the woods make sure to heighten your senses, I don’t even know how am supposed to do that, but I’ll follow instructions none the less.  Slowly walk while touching the trees, looking at colours and patterns and listening to the chirping of birds. Important to note, like all being- one -with nature activities, cell phones are to be left behind. Give your body a chance to slow down and deeply breathe in the scent of the flowers. This almost sounds like a detergent commercial. At the end of the exercise, lie down under a canopy of trees and watch the colours of the leaves and the sky.

As I was writing this, someone said show don’t  tell. So I decided to go forest bathing to make sure I am feeding my audience with practical knowledge. See, taking a walk is one thing, but doing a Shinrin-yoku is another thing. It takes a great deal of patience and self-control to walk in these woods without a phone or camera because once in a while an exotic bird will start humming right above your head, and you won’t be able to record it. Then instead of focusing on being in the moment, your mind will just keep running back to your phone, at least that’s what happened to me.

While at the forest, I learnt a great deal about the trees, especially the Sycamore Fig ( Mugumo tree). Remember the cursed tree from the bible?, yes that’s the Mugumo tree. This tree for the longest time has been considered as sacred by many tribes from Kenya. 

Its fall is also believed to signify a major event in history is about to take place, whether negative or positive. I saw one fallen on my track, maybe the apocalypse is about to hit.

As forest cover continues to deplete, we pride ourselves here at the giraffe centre for having a natural habitat that still continues to thrive with different species and subspecies. At the end of the nature trail, I did feel much better so we can say the idea of forest bathing  may work. If you don’t make it to our trail,  find yourself a green space to meditate, but if you do, don’t forget to carry your camera- the phone can remain- because you don’t want to miss out on having captured beautiful pictures of birds and Dik Dik’s for your office table.

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/econature-therapyhttps://www.additudemag.com/green-time-natural-adhd-remedy/https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/08/forest-bathing-japanese-practice-in-west-wellbeinghttps://www.standardmedia.co.ke/ureport/article/2001233703/the-fall-of-mugumo-tree-what-does-it-symbolise

It’s World giraffe Day

Dear Diary,

Today is a good day. Why? You may ask. Well, today is
World’s Giraffe Day, and that makes it as special like Christmas or Hanukkah
for the Jews who pop in here once in a while. We did not have a secret Santa
again this year, so disappointing. One would have thought that after nineteen
years in the wild I’d get used to the way of the jungle, but no, every year I
keep hoping that Santa would stop by with a stack of  Lucerne grass.

Forgive my manners, “je’mappelle Betty, enchante!”
( I am using French cause introductions sound sexier in French) I am the oldest
giraffe here at the giraffe centre. I look at some of the interns my age and
can’t help but wonder why they are so full of life like I was at ten
years.  Now I can feel my knees getting
weaker; my vision is not as sharp as it used to be, the air smells different
each morning. If I could speak my speech would start to get a little slurry,
but you know what, all this is justified because I, my friend, have lived
longer than most of my cousins in the wild.

I like it here. They give us pellets and salt licks on a
daily. But today I don’t feel particularly motivated to eat pellets and salt
licks. I mean if I did, then what would make this day different from any other
day. I have made peace with the fact that Santa is never going to pop up here,
so the least my human friends can do is feed me a different treat.

Link to Giraffe Centre day to day activities

I did have Rhus today, quite a delicious treat and not very common around here. I must say I was impressed by the rangers. So even when they hit their buckets of pellets calling unto us, I heeded. The day is almost coming to an end. I can see the sun setting leaving an orange layer of rays on the Ng’ong hills. It is a beautiful life, and I am happy. Tomorrow the cycle repeats itself but yet another opportunity to meet people from different walks of life at the platform.

Yours faithfully,

Betty, the giraffe.

The City in a Garden

We all at some point, come up with a bucket list of things we would love to do or accomplish by a certain age.  Most of these goals are usually a product of wild dreams or being in a state of euphoria. For instance, I was convinced that I’d be a millionaire by the age of 21, cruising the Caribbean Islands on the Silver cruise and having cocktail parties in Zanzibar. Now, as 21 approaches, I look at that bucket list and can’t help but chuckle. None of those TODO activities fits my reality leave alone being practical, but oh well can’t a girl dream?

The thing about dreams is that they free us into a  world of endless possibilities. This is particularly true for  Singapore, a country that has for decades ranked highest as the epitome of green cities. You see in 1965, Singapore as a developing country was famously known as the polluter’s paradise.

To see mucky rivers and raw sewage pervasive was a common sight. Lee Kuan Yew  (Prime minister then) as I would like to think, was strolling down the streets of Singapore one Sunday afternoon “seeking to reconnect with his roots” but that’s just a better way of saying – trying to stay humble.

Fifteen minutes into the walk, Mr Yew had almost done ten hops, skips and jumps, avoiding garbage on the streets and puddles of dirty water that covered the atmosphere with a foul smell. His heart bled. Later that evening, as he sat at his study, he wrote a speech. This speech was to be a revolutionary masterpiece, and what better way to start than to follow Martin Luther King’s prose – I Have A Dream –  because it was 1960, and that was the gist.

So he began.

I have a dream, a dream deeply rooted in Green vision.

That one day, Singapore will realize that the risk to remain in this bud of traditional conservation,

Was far more painful than the risk it took to blossom with big and bold solutions.

A dream of a City in a Garden.

The letter may have been longer, but this is as far as my imagination can bring me. The people of Singapore bought into the dream, and creative solutions started to flow. Individuals set into the streets this time not demonstrating but cleaning. Within ten years the country was sparkling. There was still one problem, though. As the population continued to grow, so did the build-up of solid waste.

The Superheroes of Singapore city called an urgent meeting, and that is how the Waste to Energy solid waste management systems was born. It comprises of Recycling, Incineration and the Semakau Landfill. Four Incineration plants were constructed that are still thriving to date.

All solid waste that can be incinerated is taken to these plants where they are burnt to ashes. The heat released in this process is converted to electricity and is used to power the city all year round.

The ashes are then taken to a man-made island called the Semakau Landfill. The landfill is made of partitions that are drained of seawater then piled with the ashes until a level ground is reached.  Once a level field is reached, plants are grown, and landscaping is done to make that portion a natural habitat. With years Semakau Landfill is no longer just an offshore landfill but also a recreational destination for nature lovers.

Singapore is already living SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities by incorporating parks and eco-friendly recreational facilities in their cities. The air is cleaner with trees and plants climbing skyscrapers. The young have become the forefront of conservation with the idea of green spaces  becoming a norm that has been passed on to generations for the last 50 years.

Now if a developing country can rise to a first world country while still maintaining its biodiversity, who are we not to?  I am not suggesting that there is a one-size-fits-all solution but when all is said and done, we as a country got a lot to learn from Singapore, now don’t we?

Image: By Merlion444 – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8472987

One minute to midnight

The world of conservation must have been thrown into a frenzy when Robert Langdon released his very own version of the “apocalypse” in his book- Inferno. ‘We are one minute to Midnight!’ is one of the phrases that are sure to catch your eye when you open the book. You see, this book could take some of us through an existential crisis, I know I did. So when you see the damage we humans have caused and are continuing to do to our planet, you begin to realize that we might be the cancer to our very own existence.

The phrase ‘We are one minute to Midnight’ was one of my Aha moments in conservation!

Up until then, I viewed the concept of Reduce Reuse Recycle as rote learning, a repeated commercial if anything. Then I came across the idea of Midnight being the hour of our fall when climate change won’t just be another abstract idea but man’s biggest nightmare. The human race has always suffered the stubbornness of habit; we begin to make a change when pain is involved. And while I don’t agree with Robert Langdon’s idea of wiping off half the human race, one cannot fail to see from where he’s coming.

To many the idea of Environmental conservation or conservation at large could be termed as an acquired taste, and I pray it is because then we know that the awareness is out there. What we choose to do with this valuable information is up to us to decide. At Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife, we have made it a tradition to make sure this information is passed down from generations to generations for the last 21 years.

Last Friday, 7th June 2019, we hosted our annual Prize giving day marking the end of the Environmental Competitions 2019. Once again, students from all levels of education participated in different categories of art and essays. The spirits were high as the music and dance brought us all under one theme.

I do have one question though, who introduced the Odi dance? This person deserves presidential recognition because finding a genre that brings together both the young and old in laughter is not an easy fete.  And who said the young are not wise? Because I beg to differ. The winning artwork and essay entries this year were a product of pure wit if not intelligence.

Expectations were met, even by the toddlers gracing us with their heartfelt poems on preserving planet Earth. Let’s take a conscious step to conserve our planet. It doesn’t hurt to use that metal straw to save the turtles at sea neither does it hurt to plant two trees when you cut down one. I could go on and on about the festivities of this day, but that’s for you to find out next year when you join us. Long story short, it was a good day! Do live and let others live.

The WAVES Ecology Scheme

Wendell Berry, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, once said, “The Earth is what we all have in Common.” A very simple, probably common sense knowledge, but very powerful. It’s a quote that spark our minds to realize ways that ensures posterity of the earth. This is where, Kerrigan Savage Waves Trust comes into play.

Kerrigan Savage Waves Trust (WAVES in short), decided to partner with Giraffe Centre in spreading the conservation message. They have concentrated their efforts to needy school going children. Since the year 2000, together with Giraffe Centre, we are running an ecology program. The target being all Class 5 children from 5 primary schools in the slums of Nairobi and form 1 students of Starehe School. We give them a fully paid ecology trip to wildlife Centres around Nairobi. Some the wildlife centres the students are taken to include, Giraffe Centre, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, A ROCHA Kenya, Mamba Village and the Nairobi Safari walk. All these places give visitors valuable information about conservation of the environment.

Students at the Mamba village during their ecology trip sponsored by Kerrigan Savage Waves Trust

Other than educating the students, they also fund school projects that are environmentally inclined. The interesting requirement for the projects they fund is that the projects have to be owned by the school. Which means that the students are to be fully involved in the implementation, the school should see and use the output to better their daily activities and the community should embrace it.

Art on the Conservation of Nature
“He that plants trees loves others besides himself.” —Thomas Fuller

So in a very big way, WAVES, are doing all of us a big favor in making sure that this commonly shared resource is being used well. efficiently for now and preserved for posterity.

Thank you very much WAVES for all the support you are offering in environmental conservation and education.



Tree planting

Somewhere in Kenya, there is a family with considerable acres of land. During the planting seasons, this family made it a habit to distribute some of their seeds to the neighbors for planting. Weird I know. When asked why, the head of that family answered that it is a strategy to make sure that his land produces quality produce during the time of harvest.

Here’s why….

Tree planting is not as easy as we tend to believe. Having a good tree nursery goes beyond just planting and watching them grow. It is a process that needs a lot of concentration and guidance from the experts of trees. Here in Kenya, the experts being KeFRI (Kenya Forest and Research Institute), are highly equipped with knowledge on how to have a healthy tree nursery and ways to make sure that the posterity of the trees are assured.

Did you know that for a tree nursery to be viewed as properly made, the owner need to have information the following:-

  • Where the seeds were found.
  • A good label of the scientific name of the tree seedlings.

Knowing where the seeds are have been found helps a lot in knowing the kind issues the batch might be having. This means, collecting seeds in the field and planting them does not qualify as a good seed bed. Why?

There are rules to be followed in the collection of the seeds to assure that:-

  • You do not get the same family of seeds as this would lead to issues with how the plants grow. Think of it like incest, for a good seedling to be productive during transplant, you need different families in the bed so that during pollination, if any of the families in the seedling would, for example, had a stunted growth, during pollination, that problem can be well neutralized.  To help solve that, when collecting seeds for yourself, have like 30 meters interval. Why 30 meters you ask? During pollination, the pollen can only travel up to 30 meters. Past that, it gets void and can not be used for pollinating another plant.

So, if we go back to our story, the family did that practice to ensure that in case there was cross pollination between their crops, they’ll still get a quality produce as they were sure of the seeds planted by their neighbors.

2019 AFEW Environmental Competition in partnership with Pritt

Happy 2019 to you all. We hope that the year started with good tidings for each and every one of us. As we all know, every year, from the 1st of January to the 31st of March we have our environmental competition.This year is no exception.

We are however so sorry for the lateness due to an unavoidable circumstance. Finally, the competition poster is ready.

to get to the poster, please click on the button below.

Good luck and happy new year full of success.

School Visits And Booking

Several times we have been asked what we do with the money you pay as entry to Giraffe Centre. Well, one of them is allowing school groups to visit the Giraffe Centre free of charge. While at the Giraffe Centre, they get to learn about the environment and its importance. To make sure the students grasp the concepts, we have the lessons customized depending on where the school is coming from.

To achieve this goal without interfering with the guests as they enjoy their day with us, we have come up with a procedure on how to bring the school groups to our premises.

To know the procedure, please click here to get the school booking letter

Kindly adhere to this to ensure that we serve you best.

How to Feed a Giraffe: A List of Recommendations

Feeding a giraffe can be a daunting thing… What do you do? What will the giraffe do? But, it is also an exciting experience! What a graceful and beautiful animal…and you have an opportunity to get up close and personal with it. For some, it gets pretty close, personal and intimate (#IKissedAGiraffe).

Whether you’d like to keep it purely professional or get cosy, here are some recommendations on how to feed the giraffe.

  1. Feed the giraffe one pellet at a time on its tongue, using your thumb and index finger to hold the pellet.
  2. Do not feed the giraffe with an open hand and do not stretch out your palm with pellets on it.
  3. Do not tease the giraffe, feed it when you have the pellets in your hands.
  4. Do not approach the giraffes without the pellets as they tend to headbutt.
  5. Do not feed the giraffe on any other thing other than the pellets or foliage provided by our Education Officers or Guides.
  6. Do not make any loud noises or sudden movements while feeding the giraffes. 
  7. Kindly note that the Giraffe Centre is a No Smoking Zone.
  8. Kindly allow our guides to assist you whenever in doubt.

Let us know how your experience was! Tag us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.