This centre, which protects the highly endangered Rothschild’s giraffe, combines serious conservation with enjoyable activities. You can observe, hand-feed or even kiss one of the giraffes from a raised wooden structure, which is quite an experience. You may also spot warthogs snuffling about in the mud, and there’s an interesting self-guided forest walk through the adjacent Gogo River Bird Sanctuary.
This is one of Kenya’s good-news conservation stories. In 1979 Jock Leslie-Melville (the Kenyan grandson of a Scottish earl) and his wife, Betty, began raising a baby giraffe in their Langata home. At the time, when their African Fund for Endangered Wildlife (AFEW) was just getting off the ground, there were no more than 120 Rothschild’s giraffes (which differ from other giraffe subspecies in that there is no patterning below the knee) in the wild. The Rothschild’s giraffe had been pushed to the brink of extinction by severe habitat loss in western Kenya.
Today the population numbers more than 300, and the centre has successfully released these charismatic creatures into Lake Nakuru National Park (home to around 45 giraffes), Mwea National Reserve, Ruma National Park and Nasalot National Reserve.
To get here from central Nairobi by public transport, take matatu 24 via Kenyatta Ave to the Hardy shops and walk from there. Alternatively, take matatu 26 to Magadi Rd, and walk through from Mukoma Rd. A taxi from the city centre should cost around KSh1500.