UAE grant helps to save endangered giraffe species

A UAE-backed campaign to conserve Africa’s giraffe population offers a vital chance to save an endangered species.

The reticulated giraffe, like the species as a whole, is in decline, fuelled by habitat loss, poaching and climate change.

The Mohammed bin Zayed Foundation for Species Conservation is helping the Somali Giraffe Project to save these endangered giants.

Dr Abdullahi Ali, the founder of the project, said that a lot of efforts have been made to conserve elephants in Africa, but giraffe numbers in the wild are much lower, and steadily declining.

According to Dr Ali, giraffes are in a state of quiet extinction – no one is talking about them. Severe droughts blamed on climate change in recent decades have forced the region’s former nomadic inhabitants to settle in riverine areas, limiting the giraffes’ access to water.

The lack of acacia trees, a natural food source for giraffes, is another reason the animals wander onto farms, where they can damage mango crops, sometimes destroying entire fields. “In response, farmers set snares on the giraffes and even kill them,” says Dr Ali.

Dr Ali’s project, which received a US$15,000 grant, has developed initiatives to ensure that giraffe and human habitats do not overlap.

The centrepiece of the initiative was encouraging farmers to grow limes instead of mangoes, as they are not of interest to giraffes, and then linking the farmers to fruit buyers in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. At the moment there are about 20 farmers involved in the project, but the plan is to increase the number to 2,000 by 2025.

The group also works with schools, and encourages the planting of acacia trees, which are a favourite food of giraffes.

The reticulated giraffe, a subspecies native to the Horn of Africa, is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). According to the IUCN database, there are only about 11,000 adults left in the world.

Source: The National

Photos: Somali Giraffe Project

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