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World Giraffe Day

Keen Zoologist Cerys wants to wish you all a Happy World Giraffe Day! Let’s explore the history and value of Giraffes and investigate how you can help them.

Image Credit: jbooba via Pixabay.

Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) are well known for their height, being described as the tallest known terrestrial animal. Alongside this, the animals are known for their unique spot patterning. These spots offer a unique ‘fingerprint’ for each animal, which makes each individual unique in its patterning. Further, the spot patterning is a valuable tool in predation avoidance in offering camouflage and serve a role in thermoregulation (temperature regulation).

Following the last assessment of giraffes across the world, the IUCN declared that giraffes are classified as vulnerable with decreasing populations. This assessment estimated 68,000 mature individuals in the wild. Threats facing wild populations of giraffes can include extreme weather events and poaching – for meat or body parts.

Rothschild’s Giraffe. Image Credit: TheOtherKev via Pixabay.

Giraffes are a common feature in zoo collections, with more than 450 Rothschild’s giraffe houses in zoos worldwide. Despite being the most commonly found subspecies in zoos, they are amongst the most endangered giraffes with an estimated 1,399 adults in 2018. The Rothschild’s giraffe are easily distinguished from other subspecies due to their distinctive spot markings being limited to the main body, making the animals appear like they wear stockings. Housing this subspecies in zoos is done with various captive breeding programmes being in place also, in the hope to expand gene pools and grow population numbers. 

Southern Africa Giraffe. Image Credit: chrisstenger via Pixabay.

Despite the generic trends of decline in giraffe species, the South African giraffe offers a conservation success story for the species. Whilst the success of the conservation of these species is largely due to private ownership and investments, this story provides hope for the future of conservation of various species of giraffe. This success story followed the catastrophic levels of decline that followed a period of colonisation and intensive hunting. In response to these activities, there was the establishment of National Parks and various Reserves, which were further promoted following the acknowledgment of their value and the importance of researching endangered species. To continue this success and ensure success of other subspecies, further research, monitoring and solutions are essential.

So, what can you do to help? The World Wildlife Fund offers giraffe adoptions, whereby money generated goes directly towards future research and conservation efforts. You can also show your support to efforts being implemented in the wild – Born Free launched ‘Saving Meru’s Giants’ in 2021 with the hope of directly acknowledging and tackling the threats being faced by giraffes in the wild. And the best way you can help today is by joining in with the global celebrations for World Giraffe Day!

Together, we can create a brighter and better future for giraffes in the wild – by educating, researching and conserving these gentle giants.

About the Author: Cerys Deakin is a third year Zoologist at the University of Exeter, with a passion for conservation. Alongside her studies, Cerys has developed an even greater love for wildlife through her hobby of photography – you can check out her wildlife photography on her Instagram You can also find out more about Cerys’ studies and skills on her LinkedIn page.

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