Happy World Giraffe Day! These are the first wobbly moments of a newborn critically endangered Nubian giraffe. The uncertain and tenuous steps mark the beginning of a long, dangerous journey to becoming the tallest animal walking the earth. For many of them, it’s not an easy journey: in the wild, giraffe face the pervasive ecological challenges of predation, competition, disease, and uncertain resource distribution. Increasingly, however, many of their threats are manmade: illegal overhunting, habitat loss through land conversion, fragmentation through infrastructure development. Effective conservation of giraffe and animals like them requires understanding how to protect individuals, but also how to foster systems that support populations. Engaging local communities, providing support to local stakeholders, studying key ecological touchpoints for giraffe population dynamics, restoring habitat, protecting corridors and re-establishing populations through conservation translocations all play a role. These systems-level approaches necessitate an expansive toolkit, diverse expertise, and collaborative initiatives.
This year, World Giraffe Day Funds from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation are going to support ambitious conservation translocations in Mozambique to re-establish populations where civil war had decimated them decades ago. Through systems-level approaches like this ambitious translocation, organizations like the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, are working to make the journey of giraffe a little more secure.
"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."
It's widely known that Ngorongoro Crater remains one of the best places to see big tuskers. Prior to a global ban on ivory trade enacted in 1989, elephants outside of formally protected areas were decimated by poachers. Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with its natural barriers and effective anti-poaching forces, was a relative haven for these massive bulls, and many found respite from the poachers’ bullets on the verdant crater floor. Bush elephants can live in excess of 60 years, so these bulls were likely refugees of the poaching crisis from the 1980’s. The genetics giving rise to these massive tusks have been thinned by intense human persecution: first by the old ivory hunters of the colonial era and then by the more modern ivory poachers of the second half of the 20th century. Such intense selective pressures favored smaller tusked and even tuskless elephants, with larger ivory becoming much rarer than it once was. These bulls are relics of ancient tuskers which were widespread just over a century ago