Giraffes, new research

This video is called Giraffes 101 | National Geographic Wild.

From the University of Bristol in England:

Giraffes surprise biologists yet again

May 18, 2018

New research from the University of Bristol has highlighted how little we know about giraffe behaviour and ecology.

It is commonly accepted that group sizes of animals increase when there is a risk of predation, since larger group sizes reduce the risk of individuals being killed, and there are ‘many eyes’ to spot any potential predation risk.

Now, in the first study of its kind, Bristol PhD student Zoe Muller from the School of Biological Sciences has found that this is not true for giraffes, and that the size of giraffe groups is not influenced by the presence of predators.

Zoe Muller said: “This is surprising, and highlights how little we know about even the most basic aspects of giraffe behaviour.”

This study investigates how the grouping behaviour of giraffes differed in response to numerous factors, such as predation risk, habitat type and the characteristics of individuals.

Habitat type had some effect on group size, but the main effect on group size was in the behaviour of adult females, who were found to be in smaller groups when they had calves.

This is contrary to another popular belief that female giraffes form large groups to communally care for their young — this study, published this week in the Journal of Zoology presents the first evidence to show that actually, the opposite is true.

Giraffe populations have declined by 40 percent in the last 30 years, and there are now thought to be fewer than 98,000 individuals remaining in the wild.

In recognition of their drastic decline in the wild, they have recently been listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation in Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

However, conservation review is ongoing due to current debate over their taxonomic status, since some subspecies may be even more at risk of extinction than is currently recognised.

Zoe Muller added: “This research adds another important piece to the puzzle of understanding how giraffes live in the wild.

“Giraffes are a threatened species, suffering ongoing decline across Africa, and this research highlights how they are actually an incredibly misunderstood species. We can only manage and conserve giraffe populations effectively if we properly understand their behaviour and ecology, which we are only just beginning to do.

“Despite their prominence, giraffes have been significantly understudied in comparison to other charismatic African mammals. “The common misconception is that giraffes are ‘everywhere’ in Africa, yet recent research efforts have highlighted the fragmented and rapidly declining nature of their populations.

“Their recent listing as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN red list is a valuable step towards recognising their potential to become extinct, and more research is sorely needed to understand the threats and challenges they face in the wild.”

The next steps for this research will be to replicate the findings in other areas of Africa. This is one case study from East Africa, and more research is needed to see if the same effects are observed in other giraffe populations. Results can be used to understand how the management of habitats, environmental and social variables can support the conservation of giraffe populations.

Outrage after American woman hunts and kills rare giraffe in South Africa. Tess Thompson posted Facebook photos of her next to the giraffe’s carcass: here.

This Kentucky woman is facing a huge backlash for killing a giraffe for sport in Africa.

9 thoughts on “Giraffes, new research

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  4. Dear friends,

    The smiling selfie with the rare giraffe she shot dead is going viral.

    An American hunter’s tasteless display is causing outrage across Africa — because giraffes are being hunted to extinction!

    Rich trophy hunters are a huge part of the problem, and the US is by far the biggest importer of grisly giraffe parts like hides, tails and even bones. Uggh!

    But there’s a simple move to give these iconic animals a fighting chance at survival: ban these ghoulish trophies in the US, and get giraffes listed as “Endangered” worldwide! Let’s make this viral, vicious selfie the turning point to save these epic animals — add your name and share everywhere:

    Add giraffes to the Endangered Species List NOW!

    To the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature:

    Wealthy trophy hunters, overwhelmingly from the US, are helping to drive giraffes toward extinction. It’s past time to protect this iconic animal by banning trophy imports into the US, and urgently listing giraffes as an Endangered Species!

    Add giraffes to the Endangered Species List NOW!

    All across Africa gentle giraffes are being gunned down for sport by rich trophy hunters, and butchered by poachers who hack off their tails to sell as dowry gifts and “good luck” bracelets. Between hunting and habitat destruction, we’ve lost 40% of the planet’s giraffes in the last three decades! They’ve already completely vanished from seven countries.

    Despite this march to extinction, there are currently no US or international laws protecting giraffes against overexploitation for trade. And if current trends continue, tone-deaf selfies of heavily-armed American hunters crouching over their kill may be some of the last photos we have of giraffes in the wild.

    We can’t let that happen! But with an all-out advocacy blitz on the leading international conservation body, and targeted ads in Washington to get giraffe trophies banned, we can protect these long-legged legends for good. We just need enough of us on board to make a splash — so sign and share with animal lovers everywhere:

    Add giraffes to the Endangered Species List NOW!

    From helping to bust up ivory dealing rings across Europe to funding wildlife rangers on the front lines across the African continent, our community has acted time and again on a beautiful commitment to save as much of our precious wild planet as we can. The hits against endangered wildlife and the ecosystems that support them are coming hard and fast, but we’re not going to let any of these iconic creatures disappear without a bare knuckle fight!

    With hope and grit,

    Joseph, Jenny, Risalat, Lisa, Diego, Danny and tthe whole Avaaz team

    More information:

    American woman pictured posing with dead ‘rare’ giraffe she shot in South Africa sparks outrage (USA Today)

    American hunter defends black giraffe ‘trophy kill’ after images posing with corpse spark outrage (The Independent)

    Giraffes must be listed as endangered, conservationists formally tell US (The Guardian)

    Sir David Attenborough: giraffes are facing ‘silent extinction’ (The Telegraph)


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