African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Kenya limited (AFEW (K) LTD) also known as the Giraffe Centre was founded in 1979 by the late Jock Leslie- Melvile, a Kenyan citizen of British descent and his wife the late Betty Leslie Melvile an American citizen.
Jock's extra ordinary vision of creating an educational institution in conjunction with rescuing the endangered Rothschild giraffes resulted in the present day Giraffe Centre that has become a World famous Nature Education Centre.
The Giraffe Centre is located at Karen, approximately 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the centre of Nairobi, Kenya. It was established in order to protect the endangered Rothschild giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi, that is found only in the grasslands of East Africa.
Since then the programme has had huge success, resulting in the introduction of several breeding pairs of Rothschild Giraffe into Kenyan national parks.
In 1979, Leslie-Melville added an education centre to his (then still private) giraffe sanctuary. By 1983 he had raised enough money to establish the Giraffe Visitor's Centre as a tourist destination in Nairobi.
The main attraction for visitors is feeding giraffes from a raised observation platform. The centre is also home to several warthogs which freely roam the area along with the giraffes.
The Complete Giraffe Center Experience
The indigenous forest is a remnant of the natural forest that once surrounded Nairobi. It comprises of over 100 acres of dry upland forest that is part of the larger ecosystem that originally comprised of the current Ngong Forest and Ololua Forest hence all these have similar vegetation species.
The forest also has an impressive variety of bird species, which can be viewed throughout the year. The most common trees are the Croton megalocarpus, Olea africana, Albizzia gummefera, Ficus Thonningii. Species of these trees grow larger along the seasonal Gogo River, which cuts across, forming cathedrals with spreading canopy.
The Forest Nature Trail
Giraffe Center invite you to explore the unique ecosystem of the Center's dry upland forest, which is one of the remaining segmented natural forests outside Nairobi city.
You will have the option of guiding yourself or taking a guide. This leisurely stroll begins directly in front of the parking lot at Giraffe Center. Using interpretative brochure and walk way stations, you will acquaint yourself with the most common vegetation in the forest sanctuary.
The trail gradually descends to the Gogo River then turns rightwards back to the start point.
Across the River Trail to Ngong View Point
This is a continuation of the forest nature trail. When you gradually descend to the river, cross to the other side of the river. Here you will acquaint yourself with local plants, birds and rocks.
The trail ascends gradually for 100m to rocky and open bushed glades bringing you close to the highest point to the trail, which can give you a view of the Ngong Hills. Turn right and descend back into the forest down to the Gogo River under a beautiful forest canopy.
Here look for some wonderful parasitic plants. Cross the river and descend gradually back to the start point at Giraffe Center