Journal Journeys: The Rothschild’s Giraffes

Here I bring you the third installment of ‘Journal Journeys’, chronicling my encounter with one of the most elegant and threatened creatures of Africa: the Rothschild’s giraffe. Despite the amazing encounters that followed on the trip– even on the very same safari– this still remains one of my favorites for the sheer exhiliration it inspired in me, an exhiliration that I really can’t explain other than just plain, simple joy at seeing such a beautiful creature.

Thursday, 17th of July, 2014

“We are careening through open grassland, guarded on either side by stout, tree-specked hills, when, on a distant edge of an acacia grove, we see their long necks, and know. In the roundabout route we take that follows, I cannot wipe the smile off my face: to imagine that there, in the distance, and steadily growing closer, are the critically endangered subspecies, the Rothschild’s Giraffe! There are only 670 left in the world—of those, around 100 adults reside in Lake Nakuru National Park. When we draw up next to them, they exceed my expectations.

Towering high above the knee-length grass, their strides are graceful and awkward: while their walk is confident, their long, gangly legs add a comic quality to the whole thing. On their bodies, their reddish-brown spots seem like stars.

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Their tongues are long and dexterous and easily circumvent the thorny acacias as they bend down to feed; their tails long brushes that they flick languidly from side to side.

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There are three adults and two little ones that burst into sudden, delighted gallop at random intervals, while the elders look on with serene expressions.

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The two meet for a moment in the middle of their play and look at each other with mild confusion before each accepts the other’s presence and they cross necks amicably.

Later we see a huge bull, his spots almost black, his skin nearly sagging on his tall frame: his face is specked with grey dots of age and yet has a supremely contented feel to it, as he waits placidly for our vehicles to move so he can cross the road, occasionally bending or reaching his neck slightly up or down to masticate some acacia leaves phlegmatically: he is in no rush to go anywhere.

What an enviable state of being!

Journal Journeys: The Giraffes of the City

Thus begins my series, ‘Journal Journeysl’. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be publishing exactly that, with accompanying pictures when possible.

Wednesday, 16th of July, 2014

“It doesn’t fit the conventional image: Nairobi National Park seems almost a wasteland, though the coarse. thorny bushes that carpet the landscape push the boundaries of the definition. Here and there, a giant acacia spreads leafy arms over the ground.

“I’d like to see a giraffe,” my aunt says reflectively: all our heads are filled with dreams of the trip ahead.

Just then, someone lets out a cry and points. We all crowd to the window, and there, outlined against the departing planes of the distant airport, are three impossibly long necks. The silhouettes are instantly recognizable and our mouths drop open a little. Another bus buzzes by just then, and, watching the bored people with their cheeks pressed to the window, looking the other direction, I pity them: can they not see, that they are really, truly, in Africa?”

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Can you spot the giraffe? (Hint: Center.)