The Reticulated Giraffe Project

The reticulated or Somali giraffe is one of nine currently recognized subspecies, though recent genetic research suggests that it may merit full species status. Reticulated giraffes occur only in the arid rangelands of north-east Africa but little else is known about their biology, ecology or behavior. The Reticulated Giraffe Project, a partnership between Queen’s University Belfast and the Kenya Wildlife Service, aims to address this lack of information by investigating aspects of the animals’ behavioral ecology and of the population processes operating upon them.

The Conservation Issue:

All over Africa, giraffes are in serious decline. Some 30% may have been lost in the past 10 years alone. The principal reasons are believed to be poaching, especially for meat, and loss of habitat. Reticulated giraffes, Giraffa camelopardalis reticulate, seem to have fared especially badly, with a drop in numbers of more than 80% from perhaps 30,000 a decade ago to fewer than 5,000 today.

Solution:

Research & Observation: Social network analysis will be coupled with analysis of DNA and reproductive hormones to interpret observed dispersion patterns; bioacoustics are being employed to investigate the possible use of infrasound as a medium of intraspecific communication; movements, behavior, energy expenditure and environmental parameters will be measured by means of remote-sensing devices; and a combination of telemetry, direct sampling and a collaborative network of observers is being used to explore the demography of the population as a whole. The results are already informing the conservation and management of those reticulated giraffes that remain.

Oakland Zoo’s Role:

The Oakland Zoo has fully embraced the efforts of the reticulated Giraffe Project. We support the project through:

Fundraising: The Zoo has and is raising funds to support The Reticulated Giraffe Project through various means.
Quarters for Conservation: The Zoo selected The Reticulated Giraffe Project as a 2013/2014 Quarters for Conservation featured project and beneficiary.
Outreach and Education: The Zoo aims to use our access to the public to help promote awareness and support for the project.
Staff Expertise: Zoo staff travel to the project in Africa to offer their professional skills on-site.

How You Can Help:
  • When you visit Oakland Zoo, vote for The Reticulated Giraffe Project at the Quarters for Conservation Voting Station at the Zoo’s Main Entrance.

  • If you are able to travel to Africa, responsible eco-tourism can help protect animals like giraffes and their habitat. Your park entry fees and taxes on tour companies give local governments an economic incentive for conservation.

  • A great way to help wildlife is to help the people who live closeby to the wildlife. By supporting people to achieve environmentally sustainable livelihoods, we help them avoid depleting local wild animal populations and their habitat. Oakland Zoo’ Gift Shop conservation section offers some lovely craft items from and around the world that help support local populations without harming the wildlife or their habitats.

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