Thursday, September 08, 2011
Niger has giraffes that live wild in their natural environment. I understand that these are the last herds of giraffes in West Africa. While Suz and Theo were here we went out to see the giraffes.
Because the giraffes are protected, you are not allowed to just drive off the road and look for them yourself. You have to stop and pay for a guide, pay for each and every camera you have with you, etc. Then at the end you have to tip the guide. But it's worth it and it's nice to know the government is working so hard to protect the giraffes. Our guide told us that he is "Guide #1". There are a number of guides now, but he was the first they ever hired. He seemed to really know how to find them and knew a lot about giraffes, too.
He told us that when a female is in heat she urinates on the ground. The males smell the urine and come from all around. Then they fight with each other, attacking with their hooves. The strongest male wins and he then mates with the female. He said there are a lot more female giraffes than male because some of the males are killed or seriously weakened during these fights.
He also told us that if you are driving on the road and one runs in front of you and you hit it and kill it, or seriously injure it and they have to put it down, there is a fine you have to pay of 500,000 cfa or about $1000.00!!!!
We also found out from a missionary that you can get in big trouble for taking pictures of giraffes from the side of the road as you are passing by. They did that, apparently somebody saw it and let the police know, and the police chased them down! They finally talked their way out of it, but another missionary from another organization did the same thing and ended up paying 100,000 cfa or about $200.00. They are serious about having a guide and paying for the cameras.
As I said, we saw several herds. Many of them moved on quickly when they became aware of our presence. Then we came upon a giraffe all by herself. She was chewing her cud and seemed to enjoy watching us as much as we enjoyed watching her.