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Everyone sees a giraffe on safari – right?

by Neil Richards

Every Friday Darren invites someone to be Guest Editor for the day to choose and discuss three or four images that have not previously been published on the website.  Today’s Guest Editor is Neil Richards.  Neil has a primary passion for orangutan conservation and welfare, which stems from a visit to Borneo in 2000 to see them in their natural habitat, and continues to promote awareness online of their plight. More recently, earlier in 2010, he blogged his experience of giving up palm oil for Lent to raise awareness of decreasing orangutan habitat and numbers.  He has also run the London Marathon in 2009 to raise money for Save the Rhino International and the Edinburgh Marathon in 2010 to raise money for Orangutan Land Trust.  Neil’s next venture is to climb Mera Peak in the Himalayas in 2011 to help raise money for charity: water, you can find out about the team, the charity and expedition at Twitter Team Himalayas. Follow Neil on Twitter for updates.

My relationship with giraffes is bittersweet.  I am one of the luckiest men on this planet inasmuch as I have had the chance to safari in Africa. Everyone knows the “Big Five” – the lion, rhino, leopard, elephant and buffalo, and on top of that they expect to see giraffe. But I did not. And in a way I rather like that.

True, my encounter with rhinos was one of the things that inspired me to find out more about their plight and raise money on behalf of Save the Rhino when I ran the London Marathon in 2009. But whereas tourism, done sustainably, is a vital source of income and means of protecting the great African species, there should never be such accessibility to the plains and game reserves that every well-known animal can be guaranteed a sighting, even an animal that’s over 5 metres tall!

The giraffe reminds me of that – and how lucky I can count myself to have seen any wild African animals at all. And what a charismatic giraffe this young animal is!

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