What You Need to Know to Help Protect Kenyan Giraffes
OUTSIDE GO CONSERVATION
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO HELP SAVE KENYA'S GIRAFFES
Outside GO reporter, Teslin Ishee, delves into giraffe conservation and what Outside GO partners and you can do to help.
Photo Credit: Giraffe Manor
I was named Teslin Zarafa after Zarafa, a Nubian giraffe, and one of the first giraffes to step foot in Europe. She sailed down the Nile River then across the Mediterranean, as a gift from Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt to the King of France. Because I’m connected to such a historic creature, I’ve always been passionate about studying giraffes and their nature.
It’s hard to disagree that giraffes are gentle giants that immediately catch the eye of onlookers. Giraffes, the tallest mammal on earth, stand up to sixteen feet tall and run up to 35 miles an hour. However, in conservation efforts, they often get overlooked. It was recently discovered that there are four separate species with subspecies of giraffe: the Reticulated, Masai, Northern Giraffe, and the Southern Giraffe. All of these species live in Africa and are in danger.
Though most people think of elephants and rhinos when it comes to conservation, giraffes are in dire need of our help as well. In the last few decades, giraffe populations have declined 40 percent due to habitat loss, bushmeat poaching, land degradation, and hunting for bones, marrow, and tails. Giraffes in eastern Africa live in areas of high conflict, so they are often hunted and used for food by neighboring tribes. Meanwhile, the Reticulated species in particular has declined 70 percent, and there are only an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 left in the wild.
Many conservancies, scientists, and researchers have taken on the task of creating safe and sustainable habitats for giraffes as well as studying and trying to prevent population decline. When it comes to conservation efforts, East Africa is leading the way. In fact, Outside GO’s partners–Northern Rangelands Trust, Chem Chem Conservancy, Lewa Downs Conservancy–and Sarara Camp are contributing hugely to raise awareness and to save giraffes all over the region.
Many conservancies, scientists, and researchers have taken on the task of creating safe and sustainable habitats for giraffes as well as studying and trying to prevent population decline. When it comes to conservation efforts, East Africa is leading the way.
The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) in Kenya is working with other research institutions and conservancy foundations to research the disappearance of many giraffes. The NRT brings together 33 conservancies promoting healthy human and land contact to support biodiversity and anti-poaching. They are continuously working to build sustainable and resilient communities, as well as focusing on conservancy and educating people on how to run a safe and sustainable safari or conservation. A key part to saving the giraffes is also their work to establish peace among the neighboring tribes to reduce conflict between people and animals.
The Chem Chem Conservancy in Tanzania is joining the efforts for conversation too. Chem Chem is helping to protect animals who are being hunted, working to provide effective eco-tourism, and running education projects for housing, schools, and classrooms to focus on an awareness of nature. They also focus on community outreach, providing access for recreational games such as soccer where they provide tshirts, balls, and tournaments for teams to participate. Their main goal is rehabilitating animals in danger such as giraffes, elephants, and lions which can have a huge impact.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya is home to many species, including giraffes, with a 62,000-acre property where the animals can roam safely and freely. Lewa works with neighboring communities to instill the philosophy that “wildlife is an asset, not a liability.” They provide an area for giraffes and other wildlife to live safely, and run safaris for tourists to watch the animals and see the conservation in action.
The Sarara Camp in Kenya is home to the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy with 850,000 acres of savannah plains for animals such as the reticulated giraffe to call home. The community, the Samburu people run the camp, creating a mutually beneficial partnership for the people and the animals.
Lewa works with neighboring communities to instill the philosophy that “wildlife is an asset, not a liability.” They provide an area for giraffes and other wildlife to live safely, and run safaris for tourists to watch the animals and see the conservation in action.
Independently, the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi is working tirelessly to protect the Rothschild subspecies of the Northern giraffe. Their purpose is to breed and create a home for many giraffes as well as to educate Kenya school children about these gentle giants and their vital role in preserving their ecosystem. The centre receives over 50,000 children from Kenya each year and gives free tours and programs for children to learn about conservation, sustainability, and allows them to interact with the giraffes hands on so they can create a connection with these beautiful creatures.
The most important thing is to realize how you can make a difference like our partners and the Giraffe Centre. By visiting Kenya, you will see these magnificent animals up close, learn about them, and understand what amazing creatures they are. You will witness the difference that conservation areas, sites, and research are actually making on the giraffe population. Lastly, you can educate yourself about the cause, not to mention have a personal moment with the animals themselves. Finally, after returning from your incredibly inspirational trip, it is your job to share your story. This way, people are inspired to get involved, join the cause, and help save giraffes across Africa.
Take a trip with Outside GO and get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Who knows—maybe you will name your daughter after one of them as well!
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