“Not many people realize that there are far fewer wild giraffes than elephants in Africa,” shares the star of “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,” Dr. Anne Innis Dagg.
In fact, giraffes are listed by the IUCN redlist of endangered species as “vulnerable to extinction,” and several of the nine giraffe subspecies are listed as “critically endangered.” Anne’s philosophy is that working with local people and education of the young are crucial to making a difference in giraffe conservation.
Monica Bond and Derek Lee who run the Wild Nature Institute feel the same way. They are doing a tremendous amount of work, in terms of science and education by actively collecting data and doing research on over 4,000 giraffes in Tanzania.
“Our giraffe research is discovering where Masai giraffes are doing well, where they are not, and why—which is why our research supports communities working to protect and connect areas important to Masai giraffe conservation,” explains Monica, noting that the gentle, iconic giraffe indicates the health of African savanna ecosystems, home to the most spectacular displays of wildlife in the world.
But savanna ecosystems are in serious trouble, the couple insist.
“Habitat loss, illegal hunting, and disease are decimating savanna wildlife. Giraffe numbers have declined drastically to only 97,000. And despite the popularity of giraffes, scientists know surprisingly little about them.”
Derek explains that is why their scientists are studying wild Masai giraffes in the Tarangire and Serengeti Ecosystems of Tanzania using a computer program that recognizes each animal’s unique fur pattern from photographs.
“We are monitoring more than 3500 individual giraffes throughout their lifetimes in an area over 25,000 sq. km,” he says. “This is the biggest giraffe study in the world, and one of the biggest large-mammal demography studies in history.”
Project GIRAFFE: GIRAffe Facing Fragmentation Effects, we are learning how natural and human factors affect giraffe demography and behavior in a landscape where wildlife habitat is increasingly fragmented by humans. Demography is survival, births, and movements, and these processes determine whether a population is growing or shrinking.
Their giraffe research is urgently needed so we can provide effective conservation actions in an ever more fragmented world, and ensure the future of wild giraffes and all creatures of the savanna.
“We participated in the global status assessment of giraffes through the IUCN, and our research documented the effectiveness of community conservation and anti-poaching efforts,” Monica shares.
“We believe animal welfare must be a priority for scientists working to protect wildlife. All our methods are completely non-invasive,” adds Derek. “We collect photographs and dung without ever touching or interfering with the giraffes in any way. The life of a wild animal is very difficult naturally, and because of the global spread of humans and our influences, wild animals are facing ever more challenges as they lose habitat and are forced to interact with people and human-dominated landscapes more often. We strive to make sure our research has no negative effects on the giraffes we study.”
- Donate Money or Time. Giving money and/or donating time to conservation groups like Wild Nature Institute is a great action to help giraffes. People can use their skills by providing advice, services, or goods in their personal area of expertise that can help the cause.
- Raise Awareness about the Silent Extinction of Giraffes. Speak up within your social circles, and encourage others to donate money or time to saving giraffes. You can raise awareness in your home communities by writing, speaking, and contributing to the global conversation about our planet’s climate and biodiversity crises. Use the Hashtag #standtallforgiraffe
- Plant Native Trees. Giraffes and many other species need native trees, but deforestation continues worldwide. Planting native trees helps fight the global climate crisis and helps biodiversity too!
- Support Legal Protections for Wildlife. Laws like the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws make the world safer for wildlife and people. Call and write to your congressperson, senator, governor, and president telling them you support strong law enforcement to protect wildlife.
- Volunteer online to help measure giraffes at our Zooniverse project.
- To craft a personal plan for you to become a giraffe hero: Email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.