Giraffes Are Notoriously Hard to Track, But New Technology Is Helping Scientists Protect the Beloved Species

Giraffes Are Notoriously Hard to Track, But New Technology Is Helping Scientists Protect the Beloved Species

They have one of the most instantly recognizable silhouettes on the planet. “They walk so gracefully that it looks like they are floating across the savanna,” says Michael Brown, an ecologist with the Namibia-based Giraffe Conservation Foundation, or GCF.

But our familiarity with these stilt-legged ruminants can sometimes give a false impression of their overall numbers, masking a “silent extinction”—so called because it receives little attention compared with the plight of elephants or rhinoceroses. In recent decades, however, rapidly expanding agriculture and human communities across Africa have destroyed or fragmented huge swaths of the intact savanna giraffes need to find the trees and bushes they eat, driving a 40 percent decline of the four giraffe species since 1985. Nubian giraffes, a critically endangered subspecies found in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, have lost an estimated 95 percent of their population. Recently they’re down to perhaps 3,000 animals.

This dire situation recently led GCF to partner with African Parks, a conservation group that works with South Sudan’s government to manage neighboring Badingilo and Boma National Parks—both Nubian giraffe strongholds—to track, study and protect the animal.

But tracking giraffes presents a famously difficult design challenge. GPS collars typically go around the neck, but giraffe necks, which are six feet long, skinny up top and thick down below, aren’t made for collars; the devices slide down when the animal lowers its head, causing discomfort or risking losing the collar completely. Researchers have tried anklets, chest harnesses and even tags mounted to the bony, horn-like nubs on top of their heads, but nobody can keep a tracker attached and functioning for long, says Sara Ferguson, a GCF wildlife veterinarian.

In the last two years, however, technological advances have shrunk trackers to the size of a candy bar, small enough to strap onto the tip of the tail or an ear. The new tags are solar-powered, are less obtrusive and, with luck, should last a year or more. In April, Ferguson and others from African Parks traversed Badingilo and Boma by helicopter and attached trackers to 11 Nubian giraffes. The data they are collecting will help identify key habitats and favored routes within the parks’ combined 7.4 million acres of wetlands and savanna, potentially spurring their expansion and showing where extra patrols to limit bushmeat poaching or community education to encourage local buy-in for conservation can save giraffe lives. “We can’t conserve what we don’t understand,” says Julian Fennessy, co-founder and conservation director of GCF. “We need these data to protect this landscape before it’s too late.”

Get the latest Science stories in your inbox.

Disasters Expo USA, is proud to be supported by Inergency for their next upcoming edition on March 6th & 7th 2024!

The leading event mitigating the world’s most costly disasters is returning to the Miami Beach

Convention Center and we want you to join us at the industry’s central platform for emergency management professionals.
Disasters Expo USA is proud to provide a central platform for the industry to connect and
engage with the industry’s leading professionals to better prepare, protect, prevent, respond
and recover from the disasters of today.
Hosting a dedicated platform for the convergence of disaster risk reduction, the keynote line up for Disasters Expo USA 2024 will provide an insight into successful case studies and
programs to accurately prepare for disasters. Featuring sessions from the likes of The Federal Emergency Management Agency,
NASA, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, TSA and several more this event is certainly providing you with the knowledge
required to prepare, respond and recover to disasters.
With over 50 hours worth of unmissable content, exciting new features such as their Disaster
Resilience Roundtable, Emergency Response Live, an Immersive Hurricane Simulation and
much more over just two days, you are guaranteed to gain an all-encompassing insight into
the industry to tackle the challenges of disasters.
By uniting global disaster risk management experts, well experienced emergency
responders and the leading innovators from the world, the event is the hub of the solutions
that provide attendees with tools that they can use to protect the communities and mitigate
the damage from disasters.
Tickets for the event are $119, but we have been given the promo code: HUGI100 that will
enable you to attend the event for FREE!

So don’t miss out and register today:

And in case you missed it, here is our ultimate road trip playlist is the perfect mix of podcasts, and hidden gems that will keep you energized for the entire journey


This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More