Monday, March 9, 2009
The Last Giraffes
I'm in Niger, arrived here yesterday after a leisurely drive from Ouaga, with a particular jaunt in mind - to see the Giraffes of Koure.
These gentle animals are reported to be the last of their kind in all West Africa and have seen a decline in population from 3000 in the 70's to a highly vulnerable 200 today.
Their survival is critical for another reason and that is because they are genetically and ecologically distinctive from others of their kind in the rest of the Africa.
Having arrived in Niamey I then drove on to Koure 65km South of the city, a hours drive along a well maintained road, busy with traffic.
Having picked up the obligatory guide from the station, we then then drove into the bush - the places I take my car!
Suman the guide soon perched himself atop the car, 'The better to see' he said, guiding me across the grassland with flourishes of he's stick, tapping on the windscreen.
A few km in and there it was, my first wild giraffe!
Such gentle creatures, with such a dignified gaite, it was certainly a high light of my life to see them up close.
On the way back I stopped off to see a village well - 30m in depth, its the only source of portable water for a radius of 5km and the life line of the village.
The cuts in the wood that shored up the well mouth a testament to the years of use as countless women drew the precious life giving waters up from the depth of the earth.
Life is hard in Africa, people living under conditions so extrema - poverty, heat, lack of basic needs; and yet they smile!