Our giraffe conservation research is discovering where Masai giraffes are doing well, where they are not, and why. Our research is working to protect and connect areas important to Masai giraffe conservation.
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. Habitat loss, illegal hunting, and disease are decimating savanna wildlife. Giraffe numbers have declined drastically to only 97,000. Africa-wide, elephants outnumber giraffes 4 to 1.
Despite the popularity of giraffes, scientists know surprisingly little about them.
Wild Nature Institute scientists are studying wild Masai giraffes in Tanzania using a computer program that recognizes each animal’s unique fur pattern from photographs. We are monitoring thousands of individual giraffes throughout their lifetimes in an area over 10,000 sq. km. This is the biggest giraffe study, and one of the biggest large-mammal demography studies in history.
In Project GIRAFFE: GIRAffe Facing Fragmentation Effects, we are learning how natural and human factors affect giraffe demography 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.
Our 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. Wild Nature Institute scientists are affiliated with Pennsylvania State University, University of Zurich, and the Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology. We also collaborate with scientists from The USA, South Africa, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland.