Friday, September 3, 2010

Day Two; Giraffe Manor, Kazuri Beads and David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary

Breakfast time at Giraffe Manor
This morning I got up early and went into the dining room to find seven giraffes with their heads in the dining room windows looking for food. The giraffe centre is only about a hundred and fifty meters away from the manor and between the guests at the Giraffe Manor and the guests at the Giraffe Centre, they get their fair share of treats. They get fed pellets that are a combination of corn meal and a little bit of honey. From six pm when it gets dark until the morning, there are no treats handed out, so the giraffes are very anxious to meet the guests at the Giraffe Manor and get their fill of treats to make up for all of those hours that they had to fend for themselves in the bush. It was really cool eating breakfast with 14 foot tall giraffes sticking their heads in the dining room window a directly behind and in front of us trying to get our attention.
It is interesting to note though that although these giraffes are friendly, the staff at the manor have strict safety rules regarding the giraffes and warthogs on the property. They are wild animals, so although we are allowed on the terrace outside, if either the giraffes or the warthogs come up on to the terrace, we have to scurry back into the manor. The giraffes defence in the wild is to kick and can kill an adult lion with one kick. They don't do well with stairs though, so as long as we are on the other side of a ledge that is about 18" high, we are safe from their kicks. Also, they can head butt, so we have to be leary of Kelly who likes to run after tourists. You always feed her from the front. In addition, if Patrick her son is beside her, you definitely don't get between the two of them, or she is likely to bash you with her head.
In the late morning we went to Kazuri Beads. This factory makes beads  and of course pottery from clay and ships their work all over the world. The employees are mostly single mothers on an assembly line. Their work is amazing. The factory is very important to these women as it is their livelihood in an area where work for women in this situation isn't as easy to come by as finding employment where we are from.

Our adopted baby ellie: Sities
After Kazuri Beads we went to the David Sheldrick Elephant Sanctuary. At 11a.m. the elephants are called out from the field and given 4L bottles of milk. They quickly suck them back, then play in a slough of red muddy water for about 45 minutes as the guides give us some history about where the elephants have been rescued from and thier different personalities and roles in their new families etc. They are then sent off back into the field and the older juvenile orphans are called in for their feeding and playing time. They come running out like there is only one bottle of milk between the ten of them. These orphans are a little older and stronger. They grab the bottles from the keepers and can feed themselves. As teenagers, they don't realize their own strength and as two of them are playing, they knocked over a massive barrel of water and soaked a few tourists. We wanted to adopt a baby elephant, we were allowed to go back at 5p.m. to see them put her in her stall so her keeper could tuck her in. Each elephant is assigned a keeper. He sleeps in a bunk beside his elephant in her stall and only has four days off per month. Each elephant bonds with his/her keeper as they would with a parent. When we went to watch the little one go through her bedtime routine, she was sucking his fingers. When he got tired of having his fingers sucked on, she would suck on the bottom of his smock. That wasn't enough for her though, so eventually her little trunk would grab his arm and put his hand back in her mouth. Our little girl; Sities came to the sanctuary in January, 2010. She walked into the headquarters of a ranch by herself when she was about seven weeks old desperate for some company. They suspect that her mother was another victim of poachers.

Tomorrow we are heading back to the elephant sanctuary for another crack at photographs of the babies playing soccer and playing in the mud. That was pretty cute. From there we are going to a forest that has a lot of monkeys in it. Today we saw a troop of baboons with a few babies and at the bead place we saw a few vervet monkeys and some impalas on the side of the road. Other than that, all we have seen is a swack of cows and goats on the side of the roads. Although the giraffe manor is quite amazing and we love it here, I think we made a mistake by staying this extra day. I usually try to arrange the trips so that there is some educational or cultural component or both as we are getting over our jetlag, but this trip we didn't experience any jetlag and although the giraffes are really amazing, I am anxious to go to work and get the images that I came here for. People keep coming to the manor raving about their experiences in the Mara and their sights of 30,000 wildebeast bolting across the Mara river. The great migration is winding down and I should just be thankful that I am in such an amazing place, rather than worrying about missing the action, but that's okay, we'll get our shots in due time. They may not be of any crossings, but we'll get there.

One of the couples today described their experiences at a Masai village. In one of the stories, he describes how two Masai warriors suffocated a goat til death. They then stabbed the goat in the heart and then stuck the heart with a large reed that acted as a straw. They took turns sucking out the blood while the other two pushed on the limbs and body of the carcass forcing the blood up to the heart. Once the animal had no more blood left, the Massai men cut out the heart, kidneys and liver and ate them raw. From there they cut off the best pieces of meat off the animal for themselves then took the rest of the carcass to the village for the women and children. It can be difficult to watch as a different culture does things that are far beyond what our values represent, but it really isn't for us to judge. Each Massai warrior has several wives. The hierarchy goes man then cow, then children, then goats and women are about equal. Goats to purhase are about $30 U.S. That is their culture. The couple who visited the Massai villiage had the unique experience of visiting there for a longer stay. Most tourists only stay for an hour. They take a few photos, buy some over priced souvenirs and leave without really learning about the actual culture. This couple really in the end, inadvertently went outside their comfort zone as they wanted to learn more about the culture. The culture shock was pretty intense for the wife and the husband was feeling pretty relieved to be out of there as well!

1,652 images today, 17,167 images to my goal and 9 photo days left. Well, that includes two half days. We actually have ten days left, but there will be some traveling in there, so we'll see.

'Til tomorrow...
Giles, JJ, Patrick and Helen

Check out our main wildlife photography website and our main wildlife photography blog.
View pictures of elephants from Tarangire National Park.


  1. Awesome format Greg I really like following your travels - can't wait to see all the shots you're getting. - Steve

  2. Thanks Steve. We didn't have access to the internet for most of the trip. I am just working on getting the posts up properly now.