Born Free’s West African Giraffe Family are the rarest subspecies of giraffe in the world. With lighter markings than other species of giraffe, they historically ranged across west and central Africa. But threats including habitat loss and fragmentation due to human population growth, human-wildlife conflict, and tree felling for firewood saw their numbers plummet to just 49 individuals in 1995 and left them confined to a small south west corner of Niger.
However, thanks to concerted conservation efforts by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), the Government of Niger and Born Free, there are now more than 600 West African giraffe living in Niger.
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation is the only NGO in the world that focuses exclusively on giraffe conservation. Supported by Born Free, it has been instrumental in ensuring the West African Giraffe’s continued survival by providing technical and financial support to the Government of Niger, and supporting conservation efforts in the field.
For example, GCF carried out an annual survey of the West African giraffe in 2017. The results showed the population had increased to about 607 individuals, marking an 11.71% increase since 2016 and a more than 1,000% increase since 1990.
Earlier this year, it also monitored giraffe using a new online software tool called ‘GiraffeSpotter’. “This was the first time such work was undertaken in Niger, and we hope that continued monitoring will help us obtain an accurate update on giraffe numbers,” says Julian Fennessy, Co-Founder of GCF.
The West African giraffe is a real conservation success story, and further exciting conservation work is in the pipeline.
“To help their long-term survival, GCF and partners are assessing an opportunity to establish a new population of giraffe in Niger,” Fennessy explains. “We are working to create the first-ever translocated population in the country, into Gadabeji Reserve – where the species used to be found. In preparation for this, GCF, the Sahara Conservation Fund and the Niger Government undertook an aerial and ground survey to record the wildlife, evaluate the habitat, and document the human or ‘anthropogenic’ pressure in and around the reserve. All looks very positive!”
Help GCF and Born Free continue their work to protect and monitor the West African giraffe by adopting The Giraffe Family today.