World Giraffe Day

We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment.” Margaret Mead

“The question is: Are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?” David Attenborough

“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.” William Shakespeare

Map of African Giraffe distribution showing Niger highlighted and the location of the West African Giraffe population
Map of the distribution of Giraffe in Africa, with the location of the West African Giraffe population in the south-west of Niger (edged red)

Tomorrow, 21st June, is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere, and it is World Giraffe Day.

You may ask why the need to celebrate Giraffe Day at all? The answer is that if we don’t watch it we will not be celebrating but commemorating the day the last giraffe passed away.

There are 120,000 giraffe in the wild in Africa. Full stop, that’s it. Not millions of giraffe as there used to be, but just that small number.

There are four species of giraffe, and of them there are only about 600 West African giraffe left. All of them are in the south-west of Niger. To give you some context, Niger is the largest country in West Africa, six times the size of Great Britain and one seventh the size of the USA. Over 80% of Niger is in the Sahara Desert, and it is one of the world’s poorest countries.

By the mid-1990s there were only 49 West African giraffe left in the wild.

Then the Niger government partnered with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and other conservation groups. The numbers increased to the 600 animals in two populations that there are today in Niger.

What does it show? It shows that with care, redemption is possible. Animal populations can be protected and increased.

Watch the video and maybe think about how you can help.


male mallard

The mallard was there, but I didn’t see it because I was intent on photographing the Calla lilies. When I had done that, I looked around and saw the beautiful bird, resting.

There are some photographs that I take where I ‘know’ it will not translate from the actuality to a photo, but I want to take it anyhow because the sight was memorable to me. This was one of them, as I thought when I took it. But now, full width on the ‘page’, maybe it is nice.

Brazilian Giant-Rhubarb

Gunnera manicata

Gunnera manicata with people for size comparison

At the end of last year’s season, the gardeners at the Botanic Gardens here in Cambridge cut down the sodden, sagging leaves and piled them on the spot where the plant had been. The reason I am telling you this is because what you see here is entirely this year’s growth. Pretty astounding, eh?

By the way, the Latin name is Gunnera manicata, and according to the Garden guide it originated in Chile. Wikipedia says it originated in Brazil, hence Brazilian Giant-Rhubarb.

What Lies Beneath

Gunnera manicata beneath the leaves
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