For two consecutive days, the Giraffe Centre proudly hosted an esteemed event – the practice of bird ringing. This event unfolded on the 27th and 28th of October 2023, garnering extensive support and endorsement from a consortium of organizations, including Nature Kenya, the Conservation Education and Tourism Department affiliated with the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, and the Nairobi Bird Ringing Group.
The event drew a diverse audience, with eager students and youth members all sharing a common enthusiasm for gaining insights into the world of bird ringing and birds in general. This collaborative endeavor held a dual purpose: firstly, to establish a foundational understanding of the vibrant birdlife across the expansive 120-acre sanctuary, encompassing its diverse habitats. Secondly, it aimed to empower the next generation of citizen scientists by imparting knowledge and skills in the realm of birds, birding, and the practice of bird ringing.
This marked the second occurrence of the bird ringing event at the Giraffe Centre. For insights into the first event, including its discoveries and outcomes, please click here.
Despite the inclement weather that tempered our expectations, our bird ringing exercise yielded remarkable results. We managed to capture 36 birds, representing 18 distinct species. This diverse assortment of avian treasures showcased the incredible biodiversity thriving within the Giraffe Centre sanctuary.
Among the feathered gems we had the privilege of netting and ringing, there was the elusive Tropical Boubou, gracing us with its presence from the upper scrub areas. Closer to the Centre, in the lower wooded regions, we encountered the delightful White Starred Robin, its distinctive presence adding a touch of enchantment to our day.
Our list of ringed species extended to include the Tawny Flanked Prinias, melodic Singing Cisticolas, the charming Ruppell’s Robin Chat, industrious Village and Spectacled Weavers, the elegant White-Eyed Slaty Flycatchers, and the ever-present Common Bulbul. Each bird told a unique story, a tale of life within this remarkable habitat.
Notably, all the species we had the honor of ringing were local residents of the area. As September marked the early stages of the migratory season, these cherished inhabitants remained steadfast, offering us a glimpse into their world, unspoiled by the comings and goings of transient species.
Despite the less-than-ideal weather that greeted the Nairobi Ringing team that morning, their determination remained unwavering as they embarked on a groundbreaking venture at the picturesque Giraffe Centre in Karen. Being the inaugural ringing activity at this unique location, their gracious host, Daniel Mutua, extended a warm welcome on a Friday evening, allowing ample time to strategically position the mist nets. These nets were carefully situated to harmonize with the diverse habitats and ecosystems that define the sprawling Giraffe Centre sanctuary, which unfurls from the heart of the Centre and unfolds into a lush, sloping terrain, eventually giving way to the bushland areas as it ascends.
The meticulous placement of these mist nets was guided by a singular objective: to cast a wide net, so to speak, in order to beckon an array of avian species representative of the Centre’s rich biodiversity.
Beyond the act of capturing and ringing the birds, this exercise transcended the realm of mere activity—it evolved into a profound learning experience. The primary aim was to glean insights and knowledge, to pave the path for the most effective and informed approach to ringing within the Giraffe Centre in the days to come.
As the mist nets were carefully erected and the avian visitors were captured, the team forged a deeper understanding of the birds’ behaviors and movements within the sanctuary. This accumulation of knowledge, like the mist nets themselves, spanned the diverse range of habitats, painting a comprehensive picture of the avian tapestry within the Centre’s embrace.
Looking to the future, the Nairobi Ringing team envisioned a monthly commitment to this remarkable site. Their intention was clear: to cultivate a sustainable ringing program that would not only enrich our understanding of the avian world within the Giraffe Centre but also contribute to the conservation and preservation of this natural haven. In the grand tapestry of nature, every ringed bird became a stitch, weaving a story of insight, curiosity, and a commitment to nurturing and safeguarding the extraordinary diversity that graced the Giraffe Centre sanctuary.
Since 1978, we have been on a mission to breed the Rothschild Giraffes. Back then, their numbers were so few they almost got extinct. Now, their numbers in Kenya are at 900 individuals. That’s a great win for conservation thanks to the great work the Kenya wildlife Service is doing to keep our parks safe. Their work makes our efforts a lot easier and safer. Click here to know more about our history.
Our efforts toward conserving the Rothschild Giraffes is through breeding. This year,we’ve been blessed to have 2 newborn calves in two Months. Salma gave birth last month, 13th August 2022 at 8:00am. Today, 20th September 2022, Daisy gave birth at 8am to. We are expecting Betty to give birth too any time now.
Literature on African Societies child naming ceremonies is quite fascinating. Mark Babatunde in his article titled 7 Most Fascinating Traditional African Baby Naming Ceremonies, describes the naming ceremony of a new baby among many African communities as one of the most important rites of passage in life as it announces the birth of a newborn, introduces the child to his or her extended family and the larger community, and above all, it confers on a child name. According to the Sweet Mother International organization, birth and child naming are the very substance that weaves the thread, binding us into something larger than ourselves, towards which all of humanity gravitates.
Different African Sociology Scholars have described child birth and naming as joyful communal affairs, quite universal and persistent across generations. However, traditions vary with a given community, time and region. The two events have great significance for life perpetuation of the community in the future. As the new generation can offer that support to the old generation when they need support in old age.
Giraffe naming process is not new at AFEW Kenya – Giraffe Centre as it started way back in 1979 at the time when the idea of saving the Rothschild’s giraffes from western Kenya was born. Betty Leslie Melville, the co-founder of AFEW Kenya named the first two young giraffes brought to their property in Lang’ata, Nairobi as Daisy and Marlon. Daisy was named after her favorite flower ‘Daisy” which grew abundantly within her home compound. From 1979 – 2017, all giraffes born or brought to Giraffe Centre were given names of people from different parts of the world who in one way or another have made a major contribution to AFEW’s conservation work.
However, from 2017 this naming process was changed in favour of adopting a universal giraffe naming system. The new naming system use Kiswahili names of flowers and trees. With the adoption of the new naming system, female giraffes are named after flowers while male giraffes are named after trees to represent their femininity and masculinity nature respectively. Active involvement of the general public has been at the core of this process. Members of general public are allowed to suggest or choose their most preferred giraffe name through AFEW’s social media platforms.
Just like in traditional African society, when a child is born, midwife normally announces the birth of the newborn child to the larger community. In most instances, the parents hold celebrations in appreciation to the creator for the gift of a newborn. Many people in the community including relatives, friends and neighbors will from time to time come to celebrate and rejoice with the family. They also bring different gifts for the mother and newborn child. Offering gifts to the newborn is done among African communities as a way of showing love, friendship and blessings to the child, mother and community
AFEW – Giraffe Centre would like to invite the general public in the virtual naming of three female giraffe calves. This event will be held on Monday, June 21st, 2021 as part of commemorating the World Giraffe Day which is normally marked every year on June 21st. Feel free to follow the link below and join us in celebrating these giraffe calves. We would also like to appeal to the general public to make financial contributions as gifts towards celebrating milestones made towards saving Rothschild’s giraffe from silent extinction. Send contributions of at least KShs.1000 equivalent to USD 10 towards this worth cause. All proceeds will go towards giraffe welfare management and eventual return to the wild of the young giraffes once they attain the recommended giraffe translocation age by Kenya Wildlife Service.
Why should you participate in this giraffe naming programme?
You will receive acknowledgement for your support/contribution with your name appearing on the list of sponsors during the naming ceremony.
You will receive regular updates of the named giraffes from AFEW Kenya.
You will be invited to witness the eventual translocation of the same giraffes from the Giraffe Centre to a selected suitable habitat as part of the reintroduction back to the world to increase the natural population of Rothschild’s giraffes in Kenya.
To support the conservation of the Rothschild Giraffe, use this link to the platform to use for sending your contribution.
March 3rd every year is set aside by the UN as the International day of Wildlife. This day is a day to reflect on how far we have come in taking care of Wildlife: Flora and Fauna. It’s also a day to get to know and experience the life of people who have dedicated their lives to caring for wildlife. If you got the chance to do that, Kudos. If you didn’t, let me take you, for a couple of minutes, on how tough it is to treat a giraffe..
Do you see how calm and gentle giraffes are? Think of that friend who terribly betrayed your friendship and all that is left is simply a food relationship only. The kind that ‘I will not know anything about you except when you are hungry’ kind of relationship. That’s exactly how giraffes are. Lily, Stacy’s calf, had an injury on her lower lip as she was browsing at our nature sanctuary. She wouldn’t notify us. However, We were able to note the injury and notify the Kenya Wildlife Service veterinary unit for further investigation, analysis, and treatment, thanks to our observant conservation team.
Finally came the day to treat our beloved Lily. She is 3 meters tall with a crazy ability to camouflage very well in our nature sanctuary. This reminded me of the good old days of the ‘Hide and Go seek’ game. Treating a giraffe is an essential but risky affair. Due to their unique anatomy, especially the long neck, giraffes generate high blood pressure three times higher than humans, how massive are their heart is! Their hearts measure 2ft by 1 ft and weighs up to 11 Kgs. So, darting them has to be the last option if capture tricks do not suffice. Imagine that for a second. Also, they kick on all sides. Capturing and administering medicine to a giraffe becomes a suicide mission if you are not careful about how you approach them. One good and accurate kick can kill an adult lion.
Sometimes, there are those clever and cynical giraffes, like Lily, who wouldn’t take kindness at face value. For them, darting correctly might be the last yet efficient way to give them their medication
Even though it’s a less dangerous option, the only opposition yet very efficient and effective is time. The time between Lily being darted and her losing consciousness was very critical. what Lily did was first to ensure safety in the numbers by getting closer to the tower of giraffes. Upon being darted she slowly started losing consciousness., she started walking away into the thicker parts of our sanctuary. Then, the tower turned to a journey and eventually into a sprinting session with Kenya Wildlife Service team in hot pursuit to make sure wherever she dropped to the ground was safe.
This turned from racing against her safety to treating her before gaining her full consciousness which would be twice as lethal She’d be angry and she’d get to kicking every human in her vicinity.
Finally, The KWS Veterinary unit officials were able to treat her wound and took samples for further analysis and investigation.
that was a great day for wildlife conservation and a good day for giraffes who are deemed to be facing the silent extinction.
Thanks to you, Kelly’s calf has a name. Kelly gave birth to a beautiful calf at the age of 19. She’s the second oldest Giraffe in our tower. With great help from each one of you, we gave her the name Mtwapa. Mtwapa is the Swahili name for the Sweet pea flower. Her birth is a testament to the resilience of nature and the Rothschild Giraffe to be specific. Thank you for the great support you have been according us through the years.
Good day today it is. It’s not normal to witness a new born Giraffe Calf.
But this is no ordinary birth. Kelly is a legend already, this is her 5th born calf. Normally, giraffe’s gestation period is 15 months, but Kelly here did 17 months. That’s two whole months extra. Giraffes do this when they feel like the environment they are in is not conducive for giving birth. In this case, this would probably be because of the delayed rainy season.
So giraffes too are thrilled for the rain. Congratulation to Kelly.
Every animal on the planet has its weak moments, even those that are considered the strongest of them all. In the Mara, down at the Mara river, during the primary school winners safari 2017, one of the students got to ask,” in the river, between the hippopotamus and the Crocodile, who is the stronger one?” I was very surprised when the security personnel cum tour guide said it was the Hippopotamus. With those razor sharp teeth, how come the crocodiles have it very hard to shred the tender skinned hippopotamus?! That was news to me that need investigation. By the way, did you know that the hippos kill more human beings than any other wild animal? those guys are very vicious yet calm if you mind your own business.
For giraffes, as tall as they are, they have points in their lives when they are completely defenseless. I know you know that one kick from an adult Giraffe can kill an adult Lion. The lion too knows this. That’s why they only attack the young ones only. The way of the jungle is not easy.
One of our giraffes had such a grueling experience with a lion. One of the lions from the park had escaped and came over to our premises. Now easy there, our rangers are good, they took care of her, our premise is always safe. On this fateful day, Salma, the giraffe had just been born, a month or so old. She was born to the oldest Mom around, Betty, 18 years old. The lion was able to find Salma in her hiding. It was war between the lion and Betty because, Salma was almost suffocating since the lioness had dug her teeth in her neck.
Since then, Salma is always aggressive. With her, you do not try the “Kiss” feeding. She might headbutt you. Till now, she has the marks on her neck to prove.
Have you ever wondered how the Giraffes communicate? I mean, they are tall and they make with no sound at least that can be heard with a human ear. One has to ask, how do they communicate when one senses danger.
One case, here at the Giraffe Centre, Kelly had given birth to Margaret. Now, that is awesome news, why? because the number of the Rothschild Giraffes and Giraffes in general has added another one.. So with such an amazing event, one gets the feeling of “I have to see the new born.” Whenever a Giraffe gives birth, she hides the new born from even us. This is because the young one is most vulnerable to predators. With Kelly, she hide her calf deep in our sanctuary unlike the others because she had some really bad experience before she came to Giraffe Centre (Story for another day).
So in our quest to find the young one, we did not know that we were very close to Margaret (The calf). Kelly was far away from her, she came running. You have no idea how the sight of an angry Giraffe is in itself “1000 ways to die”
To make up for their lack of audible voice, they have very sharp eyes that can see very far, approximately 5km away. With their height, they get a good aerial view of their vicinity. So, they don’t need voice to know that one of theirs is in trouble.
To communicate between themselves, they have white ears. remember the smoke signal times? Well, with their sharp eyes and white colored ears, they can make a whole “conversation” among themselves and be very comfortable.
Now you know why their ears are white.
Remember, our environmental competition is ongoing, please get your copy of the poster by clicking here