Roaming with West Africa's Last Wild Giraffe Herds

Walking alongside a herd of wild giraffes quietly grazing in the acacia-specked countryside is a welcome respite from the bustle of Niger's capital, Niamey. Located roughly 60 kilometers southeast of the city, the Kouré Giraffe Reserve is easily accessed by 4WD vehicle (either your own or one rented from a local travel agency). The visitor's fee is used to promote giraffe conservation; manage the reserve; and fund agricultural, educational, and health projects for the region's villages. Farmers from the area have been trained as part of the conservation effort to work as guides. They monitor the freely roaming herds and take you directly to their location. An invaluable source of information about the endangered animals - whose numbers have grown from 60 to 300 in a little over a decade - the guides are worth every cent of the tip you pay at the end of the excursion. Plan your visit for the end of the rainy season (September/October), and take advantage of the morning light for spectacular shots of giraffes, young and old, in their natural habitat.

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