In East Africa, the graceful reticulated giraffe is one of Africa’s most popular animals.Despite their popularity, these animals, also known as the Somali giraffe, have not been studied extensively and so are not well understood.What is known is that their numbers have plummeted in the last 30 years from about 40,000 to fewer than 9,000 today.In northern Kenya, a conservation program started by the San Diego Zoo in the United States along with other international partners is trying to learn more about giraffes and how to protect them.Researchers are studying their migration patterns, habitat, feeding habits and their interactions with other animals.
“Originally, the reticulated giraffes were found in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and the numbers have actually gone down in all the places.I think in Somalia now this, there are zero giraffes in Somali.The good population that is still remaining is found in Kenya, in northern part of Kenya.”
Among the reasons for the giraffes’ rapid decline is poaching.“That those kill giraffes and go on to sell the meat to the shops.Another reason why the giraffe numbers are going down is snaring, again which aligns with poaching as well,so people pull a snare and then it catches a giraffe.The other reason is human population increase, and then as the people population increase,then the habitats fragments and there’s no space for giraffe.”
A team of 12 local guards monitor about 400 of the world’s tallest animals. Solar-powered GPS satellite tracking devices were attached to 11 giraffes.“We drive around, get to the giraffes, take photos of individuals, take numbers, GPS coordinates,where they are from, what they’re doing what arena they are on.”
Local residents are also realizing the importance of protecting the giraffe which also brings tourism.“We’ve started to see the benefits of wildlife and it took us a while to understand those benefits.”Researchers hope renewed conservation efforts in Africa can help reverse the disappearance of these graceful animals so they can be enjoyed by future generations to come.
Deborah Block, VOA News.