Giraffes in Danger Show the Fragile Business of Africa’s Wildlife Tourism

Skift Take

The calm and dazzling beauty of giraffes makes it the gold rush of Africa’s wildlife tourism industry. But the world’s tallest mammal is threatened by multiple forces, poaching, disease, and even climate change. Economics aside, conservationists are in a frenzy to hasten their decline.

Harriet Akini

When you think of giraffes, you think of their beautiful patterns, long necks, and mesmerizing eyes.

They also rarely participate in dramatic projects or have any conflicts with humans which is why most conservationists rarely talk or think that they are endangered.

But the bleak picture painted by the latest statistics and research is staggering. For example, according to the latest research by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the subspecies of the Nubian and Kordofan giraffes were recently upgraded to endangered status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UCN). red list It is a threatened species, with around 4,650 remaining.

Incontinent giraffes have the potential to affect the big business of wildlife tourism, especially since calm, robust animals are often the biggest draw, especially in destinations like Kenya. In fact, wildlife tourism makes up 36.3 percent of the continent’s travel and tourism economy. It directly contributes $29.3 billion to the African economy and employs 3.6 million people, According to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Northern Kenya is home to more than 95 percent of the African reticulated giraffe with 15,785 out of the 15,985 reticulated giraffes found in the wild. The southern giraffe is the most abundant species of giraffe in Africa, with about 49,867 giraffes, of which 29,675 are from South Africa and 20192 are from Angolan giraffe. In total, there are about 117,180 giraffes left in the wild, and more than 50 percent of giraffes are in East Africa.

Its decline has been the result of a number of threats, most notably habitat loss, land fragmentation, climate change, poaching, hunting, civil unrest and, to some extent, a potential risk of poorly studied giraffe diseases.

The final threat is the foraging for bushmeat as a result of the loss of tourism jobs during the pandemic. The hunters kill a giraffe and expose it so that there is no trace that they just killed a giraffe. However, our scientists have a specialized system to perform DNA analysis to prove that the meat is from a giraffe. Dr. Patrick Omondi, Director of Wildlife Research at Kenya Wildlife Service.

The other biggest threat is land diversion for agriculture and urbanization, which has shrunk the Maasai giraffe’s once-expanding range across central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.

“Giraffes need a vast area of ​​35 to 60 kilograms of food, but herders and ranchers are now converting these pastures into urban areas that are fenced, and this reduces the availability of habitat for the giraffes. They are also creating new high-voltage lines that are also a threat as the giraffes are dying of During the electrocution, Emmanuel Ngombe, director of conservation programs at giraffe center.

Emmanuel Ngombe, director of conservation programs at the Giraffe Center of Kenya.

Kenya already has great opportunities to market giraffes and play a role in their conservation as it is the only country with three different naturally occurring species of giraffe. Some institutions are already marketing experiences about spending time with giraffes, such as the Giraffe Center, Giraffe Manor, Haller Park, and other sanctuaries and sanctuaries. In these very popular places, giraffes are the main attraction.

For example, at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi, revenue received from tourists who are curious to see and learn about giraffes, is used in the conservation and research of the Rothschild giraffe. Around the 1970s, Rothschild’s giraffes made the western side of Kenya their home but were in conflict with the population due to the fact that they had destroyed crops. This led to its deterioration as most farmers killed it to preserve their food. By the time they were rescued in 1979 and taken to this sanctuary, there were about 130 individuals of the subspecies.

Some were transferred to Baringo and Soysambu by Northern grassland trust fund In partnership with the local community (Rocko Wildlife Sanctuary) they attracted a large number of tourists to catch a glimpse of giraffes on one of the islands. However, here, the rise of Lake Baringo from climate change poses a threat to its existence and tourism.

“While on the island, they face food shortages and a lack of space due to the high lake level. When the tourism business was good, the giraffes helped find work as well as bring peace among the communities,” notes Dixon Ole Matano, a naturalist and resident of Baringo in Kenya, However, it is a bit of a challenge now with fewer tourists and the distance to the mainland area where the giraffes are.

The Kenyan government has also moved some to Rome National Parka park in the western side of Kenya, where they wished to expand new areas for tourism.

“The introduction of rhinos to the park has also led to the creation of a rhino unit that provides 24-hour monitoring of the rhino. This has been beneficial as it has helped giraffe conservation. The only danger here is the impact of the population expansion of giraffes in this area,” said Ngombe of the Giraffe Center. : “When giraffes are stressed they remove trees and if they kill the trees that are their food, they will die and put their future lives at risk.”