Happy New Year. We hope and believe that you’ll have a successful year.
To start off, we have our annual competition up. The competition will be running from January 1st, 2022 to March 31st,2022.
The aim of the competition is to get students to engage in environmental conservation. The theme of the competition seeks to jog the students minds concerning current conservation issues and express them through either essays, drawing or an artistically taken photograph. The winners of the competition will get to visit some of the great conservation sites and organizations we have in Kenya.
To get the poster for the competition please click here
We are all in the move. Some move with a pretty clear understanding of where they are going, in which case people would call ambitious, focused, role models, you name it. The other group is the nonchalant, easy-going, live-in -the moment type who toss care to the wind. We all have these types of people in our inner circle. Each personality brings the best or the worst in us, but one thing remains for sure, they all form part of this closely-knit fabric without which we fall apart.
Then there’s the loners, the sojourners or backpackers. These don’t subscribe to the famous maxim “For the strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the park is the wolf.” They are very loyal to solitude and go about everyday life in a manner only particular to them.
With all this evolution and growth in the human mindset. One thing has stood the test of time. The desire to know. To find meaning and understanding. To explore. This would explain why ancient explorers would leave the comfort of the familiar to seek something far much more significant- a knowledge of what’s out there. I imagine this is how most of these conversations went.
“ For heaven, sakes Vasco, get a grip of yourself! Who says there’s something far much better beyond our shores? Why go sailing unchartered waters?”
“But mother, how will I know if I don’t take the risk? There has to be something beyond that horizon. There has to.”
“We better get you a wife. Maybe that would give you a reason to stay,”
“Don’t sweat it mother, I’ll marry my kind.” Says Vasco as he storms out of their cottage.
Just like that Vasco da Gama sets off to a journey of the unknown. He finds himself in the tropical weathers. Back home was freezing, but here. This place is different. I will try not to indulge in the stereotypical writing of Africa’s sunsets, neither will I talk of its savannah and the Maasai because there’s much more to the continent itself than starving bushmen.
I will, however, talk about Africa’s beauty in a different light-the People. They say people make culture and that the opposite is false. I agree. Africa is vibrant because of its people. This continent became a transition point for many races after the Pangea broke. And for centuries we still find our way back. We come back to what our hearts know or longs.
Giraffe Center is one such confluence. One tributary comes carrying friends from Athens, another brings the explorers from Korea. One loner backpacking across North America may save enough just enough to come to Kenya or a curious individual watching Ellen DeGeneres’ experience at giraffe centre may decide to pack up and come have a feel of the same.
These rivers all meet up here. That is what makes Giraffe Center special. The joy shared by those having their first giraffe kisses or lack thereof due to fear draws them to a common understanding. We pride ourselves in being matchmakers. Giving people a taste of both worlds. Some of the friendships formed here last a lifetime, so do the connections. This is why we do what we do. Bring people closer and promote universal coexistence.
A typical day for me as an educator at giraffe centre starts with a strong cup of coffee. It should be strong enough to get me up and about. Days can be long and hectic during these peak seasons, but one rule goes unspoken for an intern: always be on top your of your game. Today is a Wednesday, and Wednesdays are good days because we have chicken for lunch and who doesn’t like chicken?
My first task for the day is the packaging of pellets. Not my ideal way of starting the day but Ed, the giraffe, is present today and that most certainly is a sign of good luck. Ed was a case of love at first sight. I don’t like cheesy statements, but for Ed, I will make an exception. You see, if Ed were a man, then he would be the modern-day Idris Elba or Aqua man if you are into fiction. He is quite the gentleman with tender and amazing kisses.
From packaging pellets, I lead visiting students, if any, into a lecture hall. There I will give a full-on presentation on Sustainable Environmental Conservation and all there is to know about giraffes, why? Because I am an educator – quite a fancy name, in my opinion. The talks happen for the better part of my morning. I might change shifts with the intern at customer care and take over the issuing of pellets to our customers. It is interesting how a communication barrier is never a problem when it comes to food. Most of the time, guests know what to do with the pellets.
Later on, I move to the platform to facilitate the interaction of the guests and the giraffes. Here you will find two groups of people; the First timers who can’t seem to believe that they are up close to a giraffe,(Their eyes are always dreamy like they might have accidentally walked into a magic shop), and then there are the Regulars. These have who mastered their way around the giraffes and even know from experience that giraffe head butts are real. Either way, the fascination in their eyes every single time is priceless.
Someone asked me the other day, “what memories of this place are sure to stick with you even long after your internship?” My answer was obvious – the people. Each day I get an opportunity to interact with different personalities. One may be on a journey of backpacking across Africa; the other could be a couple that decided to take a vacation to Africa right after retirement. They all have fascinating stories to tell. Stories of which I never get enough. Having the ability to interact with these people and listen to their views on various topics has made me more open-minded and liberal, a gift I wouldn’t trade for anything.
The other group of people that have made a significant impact in shaping me as a person is the staff at giraffe centre. You see, my view of workspaces was that of a mean boss who seems to have taken a vow to make your life a living hell. At Giraffe Center, the opposite is true. It felt too good to be true at the beginning. But as time went by I learnt that it was the work ethic and the culture of the staff that made this place feel like a home away from home. Their authenticity in helping the interns grow socially, emotionally and professionally is praiseworthy. I, for one, would not hesitate to recommend a friend to work at here. Giraffe Centre indeed has the one in a million people, wonderful counsellors and genuine friends.
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.
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.
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.
You know for the tallest animal existing, poise and glamour
is their way of life – nothing of news.
And as the Victoria Secret’s of the wild ( Uhm,, they don’t call
themselves that, but work with me here) being sick is not a welcome respite. In
fact, sickness is just never a topic to whine about around there, I mean what
else would you want when you’ve got antiseptic saliva?
Well, that may not have been the case for Nandi the giraffe.
On Saturday, we notice that Nandi is gloomy and aloof. One might mistake this
for the cold weather Nairobi has been
serving us, but at a closer look, his ever-smooth fur coat is rough, and his
nose is running. Could he be sick? But
from what? Remember when I said giraffes have antiseptic saliva? Well, let’s
just say diarrhoea doesn’t care much about that because Nandi our girl had a
severe running stomach.
In this millennial age, we could call Nandi a foodie because
she, unlike others, is not keen on observing her diet. So anything and
everything works for her, and we all know how that goes. The exact food she
might have eaten that caused this is yet to be understood, but some speculate
grass. Good news ! she’s now under the medication and close supervision from
the rangers. Her health is steadily improving as she recuperates in isolation.
Over the last decade, a strange disease has also been noted in one of Rothschild’s cousins, the Masai giraffes. This species of giraffes widely spread in Northern Tanzania and Southern Kenya have been observed to have a rare kind of skin disease. The disease is characterized by large grey crusty lesions that form on different parts the giraffe’s body mostly around the legs and the neck region.
Giraffes with these lesions seem rather inert and could be an easy target for predators such
as lions. While it’s a feast for the Lions, the giraffes can’t help but feel
offended because they have never been known to give in so easily. And while the
disease has not been recorded in the Rothschild Giraffe, its causes and
treatment are yet to be found.
Research is still being conducted on the GSD ( Giraffe Skin
Disease) to determine the exact cause of the infection and if this disease is
mortal to the species. In other news, watch your diet, stay healthy, don’t be