Posts Tagged ‘giraffe conservation’

Giraffe: The Tallest Forgotten Species

by | May 2nd, 2017

Ever wonder how giraffe communicate? Have you ever been curious about what they might say to each other, or how far their communication can reach? Maybe you see two giraffe next to each other and wonder, “Are they friends?” or “what makes them want to be friends?”

If you have ever wondered these questions while watching our 8 resident giraffe at Oakland Zoo you may be surprised to learn that giraffe experts across the world ask the very same questions. Did you know that giraffe are one of the least studied megafauna in Africa? For whatever reason these animals did not grab the attention of our society in a way that invoked our curiosity to study them like the way the lion or elephant has.

The first person to truly dedicate her life to the study of giraffe was Anne Innis Dagg in the 1950’s, but her work was ignored for decades simply because she was a woman. There are accounts of giraffe in earlier time periods, but were quite brief, and nothing was done long term. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that researchers finally began to turn their attention towards the species and long-term studies began.

So what is going happening with giraffe in Africa now? What are we learning? We know that giraffe numbers are declining, and they are doing so fast. With under 90,000 individuals left, the population has seen a 40% drop in just 20 years. Habit loss, drought, war, and human-animal conflict are the biggest factors.

Thankfully there is a small group of incredibly dedicated researchers that have made different parts of Africa their home and different types of giraffe their focal point. Since 2008, John Doherty and the Reticulated Giraffe Project have worked to develop a trauma-free way of tracking and collecting data samples from the giraffe population in Kenya, so that he and his team can continue to study the species without any disturbance to their lives. Zoe Muller has done some of the longest studies of the Rothschild Giraffe, with the formation of her organization in 2009, describing the important and complex relationships that exist between giraffe individuals. Monica Bond and Derek Lee began the Wild Nature Institute and their study of Masai giraffe in 2010, beginning the largest land mammal demography study in the world.

How can you help? Visit Oakland Zoo on Wednesday, June 21st and purchase a ticket to feed one of our reticulated giraffe. Buy a raffle ticket that day to win a painting done by one of our very own and talented Benghazi. All the proceeds to this event will go directly to the Reticulated Giraffe Project to help continue their efforts to save the species. Can’t make it to the zoo that day? Visit any of the listed projects above and make a donation directly. With your help, we can stop the decline of this magnificent and forgotten species.

Wild Giraffes Need You!

by | October 9th, 2014

In the past 10 years, 4 out of 5 Reticulated giraffes have vanished.   Most of us can’t even begin to fathom 4 of our 5 closest friends disappearing from our lives, but for the last remaining Reticulated giraffe this is a daily reality. Since 1999, almost 50% of wild giraffes have disappeared from this planet. If something isn’t done now and current trends continue, within the next 10 years giraffe populations will be completely extinct in the wild!

Amy with Tayo, getting ready for his acupuncture treatment here at the Zoo

Amy with Tayo, getting ready for his acupuncture treatment here at the Zoo

“I think the situation is quite serious. The first three years I was working in Kenya there was no rain at all. It just didn’t rain. People were starving and coped by eating anything they could find, including giraffe…and it dawned on me that we are actually witnessing a megafaunal extinction happening right now, not seen on this scale since the disappearance of the wooly mammoth at the end of the last ice age.” -As said by John Doherty of the Reticulated Giraffe Project, in the groundbreaking documentary film “The Last of the Longnecks

 

 

DSC01299So why is this happening to giraffe? The human population across Africa continues to grow, and the changing climate is forcing people to move into new areas, bringing disease and human wildlife conflict. In some areas of new development low hanging power lines are electrocuting giraffe and preventing them from traveling to different areas. Giraffe are poached for their hide, meat and tail hairs. Hides and tail hairs are used to make fly swatters, jewelry, and other tourist souvenirs. A lack of food security is a significant problem for many people across Africa. A large portion of Africa’s people are struggling day to day to feed and nourish their families. When people are starving, a giraffe presents a large amount of meat. Food program development is crucial for the survival of giraffe and other African species.

It appears EVERYONE is getting into the "Jeans for Giraffes" spirit! Donate your old denim to help conserve giraffes in the wild!

It appears EVERYONE is getting into the “Jeans for Giraffes” spirit! Donate your old denim to help conserve giraffes in the wild!

Even so, giraffes remain an iconic species as they have for thousands of years. They have been gifts to royalty have and inspired artists to memorialize them on cave walls and pyramids! They are represented in the books we read to our children and the first toys we give them as infants. Their beauty and breath taking grace draws tourists to Africa from all over the world. So how is it possible that most people have no idea that wild giraffes are in a crisis and need our help? Every school child learns the threat ivory poses to African elephants, that global warming is harming polar bears, and that hunting and habitat loss is devastating panda populations, but the loss of the majestic giraffe remains a largely silent and unheard. This needs to change and giraffe zookeepers, conservationists and researchers around the globe are working together to draw attention to this very serious issue. The one thing that everyone agrees the average person can do to help is to increase awareness of the problem. Only with awareness, education, and dissemination of the most current information does change come.

So what can you do? It’s always helpful to collect financial contributions for conservation projects that need funding study and save giraffes, but even if you don’t have to have a single dollar, you can help wild giraffes! You can help simply by going to www.giraffeconservation.org and downloading the Giraffe Conservation Guide booklet. Now armed with information you can talk to your friends and relatives about giraffes, make giraffes the focus of a school report, include giraffes in your art, like the Last of the Longnecks and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation on Facebook, participate in a Jeans for Giraffes drive, or visit the giraffes and their keepers at Oakland Zoo.

I live my life everyday surrounded by the giraffes at Oakland Zoo. I can’t even begin to imagine a world without them! One or 2 people can’t save giraffes but all of us together can make a difference. I ask you, if not you, then who? Take a stand and do something for giraffes today!