Tim Lewthwaite reports from Kenya where he has been traveling in search of the country’s diverse and beautiful wildlife.
Giraffes are one of the real African savanna icons, and I was hoping to see all three Kenyan subspecies while in the country. With only an estimated 80,000 giraffes remaining in Africa, it is a little known fact that they are an animal that is becoming increasingly rare. This becomes more apparent when you realize that there are nine subspecies of giraffe, and some, like the Rothschild’s giraffe, have only a few hundred animals remaining. We came across a small group of the Rothschild’s giraffes about half a mile away from the shores of Lake Nakuru as they browsed on some acacia trees. Seeing these large and graceful animals peacefully working their way through the landscape, it is hard to imagine a similar scene without them.
The second species we encountered was the more common reticulated giraffe. When fully grown, giraffes have few predators. The main threat comes from people who poach them for their skin and hair. The reticulated giraffe, along with the Rothschild’s, are the two species you are likely to see in a zoo.
With the reticulated and Rothschild’s giraffe having been “spotted,” we went in search of the third Kenyan subspecies of giraffe–the Masai giraffe. While we didn’t get very close to any Masai giraffes, we did have several sightings. You can distinguish the Masai giraffe by the jagged edges they have around their spots.
Giraffes are one of those animals that, I think, people take for granted. It’s worrying to realize that with only an estimated 80,000 left in the wild, there are actually far fewer giraffes than there are elephants on the continent. And while the focus is rightfully on the rapidly-rising levels of poaching for elephants and rhinos, there are a number of other species (and sub-species) like giraffes that warrant our attention as well.
To learn more about the plight of giraffes in Africa, you can visit the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
Tim is traveling with AZA Commercial Member Classic Escapes. Be sure to visit the Animals Inc. website to view photos of his experiences in Kenya and to learn more about actions you can take to help protect the species that live there.