World Giraffe Day is happening today.
Today we are celebrating the longest day of the year (or night depending on where you are!) What better day to celebrate our long necked friends?! Did you know there are only around 90,000 giraffe left in the wild? Their biggest threat is loss of habitat and poaching…that’s right, us humans are at it again!
Dr. Julian Fennessy is founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. He recently discovered the shocking statistic that giraffe numbers have declined by 40% in the last 15 years. Even more horrifying is the fact that giraffes have become extinct in at least 7 African countries…and all without a mention in our media! This has led to it being dubbed the “silent extinction.”
That being said, there is fantastic work being doing and this year the focus is on Kenya and Namibia with an ambitious plan to gather a new breeding group. Go to giraffeconservation.org to see how you can help spread awareness and save these beautiful endangered creatures.
Here are some very special ways to get up close and personal with these magnificent herbivores!
1. Walking safari in Arusha National Park, Tanzania
The great thing about Arusha National Park is that it allows walking safaris with an armed ranger. In fact, I would say this small underrated park is worth a visit for that alone. The ranger gets you as close as possible on foot to giraffes in the wild where you can appreciate just how huge they really are!
2. Chobe National Park, Botswana
Particularly in dry season, Chobe offers excellent viewing for giraffe as they crane their heads high to reach the sparse foliage. Some even look like they are there to pose for the camera! An easy day trip from Victoria Falls makes it an inexpensive option for seeing the majestic giraffe up close. A great thing about Chobe is that it allows open sided 4x4s that are a rarity on an East African safari.
3. Giraffe Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
Even more budget friendly at 1000KSh or around €8 for entry (500Ksh for students), the Giraffe Centre is worth a visit to really get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Founded in 1983 as a breeding centre for the endangered Rothschild giraffe- only 130 remained in existence- the Giraffe Centre allows the opportunity to feed one of the roaming giraffes if they decide to come to the viewing platform.
4. Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
If Chobe’s views of giraffes galore sound too easy, why not try Tarangire in the green season where you really have to work for your giraffe sightings! Ok, so it might not give you the same photographic opportunities, but it does let you play a fun game of spot the giraffe and gives you an idea of just how well adapted they are to their environment.
5. Lucky, rare sightings outside the National Parks!
This one’s a bit of a cheat because you can’t exactly plan it, but nothing beats the unexpected encounter on a roadside. My first time seeing an African animal in the wild was while driving out of the Victoria Falls Hotel, Zambia. It was pitch dark and I was sitting in the back of the car flicking through photos on my camera. I heard the others in the car say “wow, a giraffe” and looked up expecting to see one in the distance. What I saw instead was 4 legs towering in front of the windscreen of the car! I may have had a slight overreaction where I screamed and dropped my camera but it is still, hands down, my favourite travel memory!
Namibia is next on my list for giraffe spotting! Any other must-see giraffe hot spots? Let me know in the comments!