Kenya’s prolific wildlife is unparalled anywhere else in the world. This is a land where the world’s remaining population of big cats, big mammals and plains game still roam free in their natural habitats. Besides being the home of the ‘Big Five’ (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo), Kenya accommodates industrious dung beetles, brilliant-coloured butterflies, rare chameleons, birds to the breath taking fauna and flora that surrounds the same.
The country’s terrain ranges from rugged snow capped peaks of Mt. Kenya, the Highlands, the Savannah, the Great Rift Valley and its lakes as well as the simmering sands of the Coast. Each of these regions is home to different types of wildlife that are unique to each area.
Kenya has a total of over 50 National Parks and Reserves, including Marine Parks. These are supplemented by private sanctuaries and game ranches which form about 10 per cent of Kenya’s surface area. The most popular Parks & Reserves are Maasai Mara, Samburu, Tsavo, Amboseli, and Lake Nakuru.
The Great Wildebeest Migration, considered to be one of the world’s most impressive natural spectacles, takes place between the Maasai Mara on one side and the Serengeti in Tanzania on the other.
THE GIRAFFE CENTRE
The Giraffe Centre is the creation of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (A.F.E.W. Kenya), a Kenyan non-profit organisation. Our main purpose is to educate Kenyan school children and youth on their country’s wildlife and environment, as well as give local and international visitors an opportunity to come into close contact with the world’s tallest species, the giraffe.
Home of the Rothschild Giraffe – Environmental Conservation Centre.
The Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife (A.F.E.W.) Kenya was founded in 1979 by the late Jock Leslie-Melville, a Kenyan citizen of British descent, and his American-born wife, Betty Leslie-Melville. They began the Giraffe Centre after discovering the sad plight of the Rothschild Giraffe. A subspecies of the giraffe found only in the grasslands of East Africa.
The Giraffe Centre has also become world-famous as a Nature Education Centre, educating thousands of Kenyan school children every year.
At the time, the animals had lost their habitat in Western Kenya, with only 130 of them left on the 18,000-acre Soy Ranch that was being sub-divided to resettle squatters. Their first effort to save the subspecies was to bring two young giraffes, Daisy and Marlon, to their home in the Langata suburb, southwest of Nairobi. Here they raised the calves and started a program of breeding giraffe in captivity. This is where the center remains to date.
Betty and Jock then registered A.F.E.W. in the United States. Funds were raised to move five other groups of giraffe to different safe areas. Breeding herds of 26 giraffes were translocated from Soy Ranch to the Ruma Game Reserve in present-day Homa Bay County, Lake Nakuru National Park in Nakuru and Nasolot Game Reserve in modern-day West Pokot County. In 1985, seven giraffes were introduced to Yodder Flower Farm near the Mwea Game Reserve in Mbeere District in Eastern Kenya.
In 1983, funds raised by A.F.E.W. USA helped build the Educational Centre on a 60-acre sanctuary. This with the extraordinary vision of creating an educational institution in conjunction with rescuing the giraffe. The Giraffe Centre opened its doors to the general public and students the same year, receiving over 800 excited students.
There are now over 300 Rothschild Giraffe safe and breeding well in various Kenyan national parks. Recent herds have been introduced to Soysambu Ranch by Lake Elementaita in the Great Rift Valley, Kigio Conservancy and the Sergoit Ranch in the Mount Elgon region.
THE SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates an orphan elephant rescue and wildlife rehabilitation program in Kenya. It was founded in 1977 by Dame Daphne Sheldrick to honor her late husband, David Sheldrick. Since 2001, it has been run by their daughter, Angela Sheldrick.
“The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust embraces all measures that complement the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife. These include anti-poaching, safe guarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust works closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Forest Service and local communities to achieve their long-term goal to secure safe havens for wildlife, through the effective management and protection of key ecosystems and wilderness areas in Kenya.
For over 25 years Kenya-born Daphne Sheldrick lived and worked alongside her husband, David Sheldrick, MBE, a naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park. Throughout this time, they raised and successfully rehabilitated many wild animal species. Daphne Sheldrick's involvement with wildlife also spanned a lifetime, and she was a recognized international authority on the rearing of wild creatures. She was the first person to have perfected the milk formula and necessary husbandry for infant milk-dependent elephants, discovering that coconut oil was the nearest substitute for the fat in elephant milk.
After the death of her husband in 1977, Daphne and her family lived and worked in the Nairobi National Park, continuing David's legacy of conservation. In 1987, the David Sheldrick Memorial Appeal, a part of the African Wildlife Project, metamorphosed into the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust; becoming an independent non-profit organization.
The organization re-branded their name and logo on February 1, 2019, changing their name from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in order to honor both David and Daphne Sheldrick.
The number one long-term achievement of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is their success with raising orphaned baby elephants and integrating them back in the wild. The trust is a leader in conservation efforts to help save the remaining African elephant populations in grave danger from the illegal ivory trade.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates a digital foster program which allows individuals across the world to support their field projects by fostering an orphaned elephant, rhino or giraffe in their care for themselves or as a gift. For a suggested donation of $50 per orphan per year, individuals receive via email: a personalised certificate, an interactive map, monthly update on the progress of their orphan and a watercolour by CEO Angela Sheldrick.
All elephant, rhino and giraffe orphans rescued by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust are available to foster, including those orphans living back in the wild, and proceeds benefit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's conservation projects.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust's Elephant Orphanage is located in Nairobi National Park, Kenya and is open to the public for one hour every day, excluding 25 December, from 11 am to noon. During this time the orphans arrive for their midday mud bath and feeding. Entrance to the orphanage for the visiting hour requires minimum contribution of $7 US dollars / 500 Kenya shillings per person. A gift shop is on site and visitors can also set up a fostering during their visit.