20/11/2018

Race against time to save critically endangered giraffe

Experts at Bristol Zoological Society are involved in a race against time to save one of the world’s most beautiful and majestic animals.

The society is working to help safeguard the future of Kordofan giraffe which have just been assessed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

It is estimated that as few as 2,000 individuals of this sub-species may be left in Africa, out of a total giraffe population of about 80,000.

Bristol Zoological Society is working to protect the Kordofon giraffe by helping to fund eco-guards to patrol the Bénoué National Park and a network of other protected areas in northern Cameroon.

Dr Gráinne McCabe, head of field conservation and science at Bristol Zoological Society, said in 30 years there had been a fall of 80 per cent in the giraffe population and it was vital action was taken.

She said: “It is a race against time. They are iconic animals, a vital part of the African landscape and very important to the eco-system. But we could lose them within our lifetime if we don’t do something about it.

“If we lose them, we would also lose the predators that feed on them and that would have a severe knock-on effect to the food chain.”

The main threat to Korafan giraffe in this region has been competition for food with herders bringing their cattle into the national park and stripping leaves from the trees to feed their herds. This leaves little food for giraffe during the prolonged dry season.

Dr McCabe said the patrols supported by Bristol Zoological Society, which have been identified by the Conservator of the Benoue National Park as a priority,  have really worked well and led to a drop in illegal activity.

The society has also helped to pay for camera traps which are used to identify giraffe and assess which animals are living in groups together. Pictures from the cameras are then sent back to Bristol by a programme manager based in Cameroon.

Dr McCabe said in time they hope to discover more about the giraffes’ movements and the way those within the national park interact with others in neighboring areas.

She said: “We are able to make an impact by spending relatively small amounts because we have spent time on the ground in Cameroon and worked with the National Park team to come up with effective solutions that can be implemented quickly and efficiently."

Find out more about the Cameroon Field Project.

Dr McCabe said if anyone was able to offer some financial support to help Bristol Zoological Society save the Kordofan giraffe she would be delighted to hear from them.

Please contact development@bristolzoo.org.uk for more information. 

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