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.
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. As of recently as the turn of the millenium, 38,000 remained. Today, they are thought to number fewer than 25% of that and almost all are resticted to north-coast of Kenya.
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.
The Oakland Zoo has fully embraced the efforts of the reticulated Giraffe Project.
The Zoo has and is raising funds to support The Reticulated Giraffe Project through various means.
The Zoo selected The Reticulated Giraffe Project as a 2013/2014 Quarters for Conservation featured project and beneficiary.
The Zoo aims to use our access to the public to help promote awareness and support for the project.
Zoo staff travel to the project in Africa to offer their professional skills on-site.