Getting To Know The Endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe

April 23rd, 2014
By David Brown

 

A group of Masai giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) look out over the NgoroNgoro Crater. Photo by Gary.

 

Did you know that that there are different kinds of giraffes?  Scientists have identified nine different kinds of giraffes.  All of the types of giraffes live in Africa.  All of them have long necks and spots, but different types of giraffes have different kinds of spot patterns.

 

The Giraffe With White Stockings

 

The Rothschild’s giraffe is a type of giraffe that lives in the Great Rift Valley region of East Africa.

Lord Walter Rothschild was the first scientist to describe this giraffe after he saw them in East Africa in the late 1800s.  The Rothschild’s giraffe is also known as the Baringo giraffe because they were once found around Lake Baringo in Kenya.

The Rothschild’s giraffe has a specific type of coat pattern.  It has light brown patches with creamy lines in between.  Their most distinguishing feature is their white “stockings.”  Their legs are completely white with no markings from the hoof up to their knees.  No other types of giraffe wear white stockings like the Rothschild’s giraffes do.

 

This Rothschild’s giraffe shows off its white stockings. Photo by Saipal.

 

The Rothschild’s Giraffes Are Having Problems

 

Rothschild’s giraffe were once found in Uganda, Kenya and Sudan.

They are now extinct in Sudan, and live only in the Rift Valley area of Kenya and Uganda.  This area has very fertile soils and so a lot of people choose to live there and farm the land.  With good rainfall and a warm climate, the area is excellent for growing crops and raising livestock.

This farming activity means that any forests or trees in the area get cut down to make space for crops and domestic animals.  The giraffes in this area lose the places where they live.  The Rothschild’s giraffes have nowhere to go and their numbers have fallen as a result.

There are now fewer than 800 Rothschild’s giraffes left in Kenya and Uganda,

Giraffes evolved long necks to reach tree leaves, their favorite food. Photo by Daryona.

 

Learning About Rothschild’s Giraffes

 

Zoe Muller is a scientist who studies the Rothschild’s giraffes and works to find ways to protect them.  She explains what her work is about: “My project is carrying out research on practically everything there is to know about the Rothschild’s giraffe.  I am finding out what they eat, what kind of places they choose to live in, how they form groups and how they make friendships.  I am also looking at their distribution, past and present, and what steps need to be taken to ensure their conservation.”

Many of the children who live where the Rothschild’s giraffes do never get to see the giraffes and other wildlife that live in their country.  Zoe visits local schools and community groups to tell people about the Rothschild’s giraffe and why it is special.

 

Helping The Rothschild’s Giraffes Solve Their Problems

 

The main things that the Rothschild’s giraffes need to survive are protection of their habitat and increasing peoples’ awareness of how special these giraffes are.

Protection of the Rothschild’s giraffe’s habitat can only be done where they live in Kenya and Uganda, but anybody can help these giraffes by caring about them and spreading awareness of giraffe conservation.

Zoe has some advice for anyone wanting to help giraffe conservation:

“The biggest thing that people can do to help is to help spread the word about how endangered giraffes are in the wild, and let people know.  Ways of doing that include making posters about the Rothschild’s giraffe, perhaps doing a talk to your class or school, or writing a blog about them on the Internet.  Raising money for conservation projects also is a great help, for example raising funds by having a bake sale, or by taking part in a sponsored walk or organizing a sponsored movie night.  Every little helps!”

If enough people know and care about the Rothschild’s giraffes, hopefully they continue to wear their white stockings for a very long time into the future.

 

A Rothschild’s giraffe at Giraffe Manor in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0.

Africa takes action against elephant poachers

April 1st, 2013

Eight Central African countries have announced they will send a thousand soldiers after poachers responsible for killing 89 elephants in Chad earlier this month. The mobilization of soldiers and law enforcement officers is a sign that Central African countries are beginning to take elephant poaching more seriously.

Growing demand for ivory from elephant’s tusks in East Asia has caused poaching to rise. Elephant populations in Central Africa have been the hardest hit; a recent study in PLoS ONE estimated that 60 percent of the world’s forest elephants (found in the Congo rainforest) have been killed by poachers in the last ten years alone. In all, experts estimate that some 25,000 elephants were killed in 2011 for their tusks.

“Now, it is up to demand countries—[like] China and Thailand—to show that they have as much courage and determination as these Central African countries,” Bas Huijbregts, head of WWF’s Central African campaign against the illegal wildlife trade, said.