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News

Giraffe Conservation in Namibia

 Thanks to conservation efforts in the park, members of our Wildlife team, Kim and Dave, recently traveled to Namibia to assist the Giraffe Conservation Foundation with a photographic survey of giraffe in the region. Photo surveys allow researchers to get an idea of the overall population in the study area, as well as how the giraffe are moving, what resources are available to them and what the group dynamics are. All this information contributes to future conservation plans, such as relocation projects to help reestablish giraffe to their historical range. 
     In addition to photographing and IDing giraffe, they were also recording data on group sizes and individuals (which sometimes changed from day to day), GPS location, animal behavior, DNA sampling and participated in a water study in conjunction with Namibia University of Science and Technology.
Read on to hear more about Kim and Dave’s experiences on the trip.

  • How does it feel to have contributed to conservation work? 
    • Kim: In one word...amazing! Giraffe populations are on the decline, with only about 117,000 wild giraffe left in Africa. Feeling like you are contributing to something bigger and helping to save the wild counterparts of a species we have already come to love was incredible.
    • Dave: Conservation is one of the reasons we are zookeepers and doing work outside of our institutions is inspiring. Working to help the world as one planet makes you feel connected in some way to a larger picture. Things that we can all do to help keep this planet stay inhabitable, for all its creatures, is important.
  • Were there any moments of awe for you? 
    • Kim: Being able to see and observe herds of giraffe, elephants, various antelope species and even a cheetah was definitely exciting. Something that I think took us both by surprise is how well a giraffe's spot pattern really does act as camouflage. I don't think we understood the true gravity of it in the Namibian landscape. To be staring at a tree, or even a bush, and not be able to see a giraffe directly before you was shocking! 
    • Dave: At the end of the day, we would always go and find nice spot to watch the sunset. One day we went on top of a mound that overlooked the river system we had been tracking giraffe in. In the twilight, we watched a herd of 3 elephants come down the river and stop about halfway to dig for water. All the sunsets were amazing and the one on my 40th birthday was truly a moment of awe. The night sky is amazing. One night, we were camping next to a large rock in the middle of the desert and we just slept with no tent out under the stars.
  • How did your experience working with giraffe at Lion Country Safari contribute to success in fieldwork? 
    • Kim: Using a similar photo ID system definitely made it easier to quickly identify giraffe. ‚Äč
    • Dave: Being able to spot an animal in large spaces and being used to working with large herds of animals. We get counts of all LCS animals every day and having large herds of animals helped identify individuals in Africa. We also had to use individual markings on animals and having experience doing the same with our animals (ex. Ayanna giraffe has a butterfly spot) was helpful.

 

Giraffe in Africa stretching its neck upwards to reach leaves from a tree. Wildlife team member Dave photographing a giraffe from inside of a truck. Sunset over the sandy desert landscape in Namibia.

Posted by Haley Passeser at 12:05