Note from the GCF Directors
Wow, without doubt, 2020 threw us all a curveball. Just like us, you probably also had various plans for the year and then the global COVID-19 pandemic brought life to a grinding halt. Even though travel restrictions and lockdowns, which held the world in check, affected some of our efforts, we managed to find ways to continue with most of our important work throughout Africa – giraffe still needed saving. Amid all the new pandemic-related stress and additional fears, there was certainly some merit in spending more time with our immediate families and in travelling less. This time also gave us the opportunity to revisit our approach regarding particular giraffe conservation challenges – stopping to reflect is not all bad…
While revisiting our organisational values and our mission, vision and purpose, we realised that we are ‘a voice for giraffe’. Limited attention is still given to giraffe conservation and GCF plays a critical role in amplifying the giraffe conservation message – our own and that of others. By creating and supporting our long-term partnerships throughout Africa, we are starting to see the emergence of some giraffe conservation success stories. Every day we are inspired by our team, which has continued to make a difference for the world’s most iconic animal during these challenging times.
We are often asked how we measure success. There is no easy answer; however, one indicator is the total number of giraffe remaining in the wild in Africa. We have recently collated the latest available data on giraffe in our 2020 Status of Giraffe Report. The outcome is positive as our current estimates have increased to 117,000 giraffe remaining in the wild. While this is certainly great news, it does not mean that giraffe are out of the woods. In part, the increase in numbers is due to better protection, awareness and conservation of giraffe, and largely, it is due to better survey methods and compilation of data: we have simply gotten better at counting them and working with partners to share information. Slowly, giraffe are becoming a priority species for conservation. This is critical for their future survival. Did you know that for every three to four African elephants, there is only one giraffe in the wild?
Despite all the challenges and losses this year, there is a lot to be grateful for. We are proud to say that GCF has continued to have a big impact on all giraffe species and their habitat. We cannot thank our amazing team, our conservation partners and our supporters enough. Saving giraffe is a team effort! We look forward to continuing working together for giraffe conservation in Africa and to sharing more exciting news with you in the future.
As the world adapts to the new norm, let’s move forward in such a way that we can remain standing tall for giraffe!
—Steph & Julian Fennessy
What else is inside …
- About GCF
- Board of Directors
- GCF Team
- Key Conservation Partners
- Status of Giraffe 2020
- GCF Initiatives & Programmes
- Giraffe Conservation Health Initiative
- Twiga Tracker Initiative
- Twiga Wetu Initiative
- Conservation Translocations
- Capacity Enhancement & Awareness
- GCF Financial Summary
Message from the GCF Board Chair
As you read through this year’s GCF annual report you will see that, despite the challenges of the pandemic, our team did not miss a beat saving giraffe throughout the African continent. Our purpose never shifted and we have adapted to the new challenges. The team’s work included the ongoing desnaring and anti-poaching support, critical genetic research, the translocation of 55 giraffe in three countries, as well as the tremendous environmental education work of our Khomas Environmental Education Programme (KEEP) team and much more. For the first time, we are delighted to report positive trends among some of the most threatened giraffe populations, which are also highlighted in this report.
The Board of Directors and I could not be prouder of this team. However, there is still so much work to be done! I would like to stress that it could not be done without our generous donors, unwavering supporters, and tremendous partners in the conservation world. I want to particularly thank our donors for their continued generosity through these difficult times.
I also thank my fellow board members for contributing their passion, expertise and knowledge in guiding GCF, and I extend the entire board’s appreciation to Tom Leiden, who is now a retired board member and the former Chair, for his invaluable contributions over the years. We also welcome our new members, Steph Fennessy, Tim Tetzlaff and Lars Markgren, who chose to serve on the GCF board this last year. I am confident that GCF is on a strong footing as we continue our mission to save giraffe.
Key Conservation Partners
Working with partners is the core of GCF’s values and conservation approach. Over the past years we have forged numerous key conservation partnerships around the world, particularly throughout Africa. We are proud to work closely with our partners towards saving giraffe in the wild.
This is not an exhaustive list; however, we would like to highlight our core conservation partners that we collaborated with throughout the African continent in 2020/21. We are fortunate that there are many more organisations and individuals who continue to provide invaluable support. All your assistance is important and together we stand tall for giraffe.
Status of Giraffe 2020
Today, the iconic giraffe and their habitat remain under a high level of conservation threat. In 2016, giraffe as a single species were categorised as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, following the analysis of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Giraffe & Okapi Specialist Group (GOSG) with input from many GCF staff members (who are also members of the IUCN SSC GOSG).
To better understand the current situation and how giraffe numbers have evolved since the IUCN assessment was undertaken in 2015, we led a comprehensive review of their current abundance and evaluated these trends. With the new taxonomic classification of four distinct species of giraffe, we could better define the conservation status of each species and understand the diverse challenges they face throughout Africa.
The good news is that overall giraffe numbers are on the rise and that the conservation efforts we and many of our partners are undertaking appear to be successful. Estimated at a total of 97,562 individuals in 2015, our 2020 review shows a 20% growth to 117,173 giraffe in the wild today. Most importantly, these numbers are increasing across all four species of giraffe. This is the first time that such trends have been reported in recent history.
GCF Programmes & Initiatives
GCF currently works in 16 African countries and has an impact in over 100 million acres of giraffe habitat. Our work concerns all four species of giraffe. As a lean and highly effective organisation, we strive to structure our initiatives and programmes in a way that allows our supporters to easily see where and how we work.
Our programmes and initiatives range from on-the-ground desnaring and anti-poaching support to on-going continent-wide genetics assessments of giraffe, from primary school environmental education to providing expert advice to African governments, and from giraffe field surveys to using cutting-edge technology to track giraffe remotely. The figure provides a snapshot of the nature of our giraffe conservation involvement throughout Africa. Please visit our website for more information on these programmes. In addition, each of our three overarching Africa-wide initiatives – the Twiga Tracker, Twiga Wetu and the Giraffe Conservation Health Initiatives – expand across several countries and involve all four giraffe species.
This following are some key programme highlights of this financial year: In Uganda, our collaborative mobile veterinary programme with the Uganda Wildlife Authority desnared more giraffe (and other wildlife) than any other similar programme on the continent. In Kenya, we worked with and supported the Kenya Wildlife Service to better understand the bushmeat trade in the country. In Tanzania, we expanded our genetic sampling alongside skin disease monitoring with the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute and we supported local community conservation efforts in the north of the country. In Niger, our ongoing conservation monitoring and support of the last West African giraffe continued, despite security concerns. In Chad and the Cameroon, we provided additional support to giraffe conservation efforts. Throughout Southern Africa, our work has expanded: In Zimbabwe, we worked closely with ZimParks and private concessionaires to support giraffe conservation; in Mozambique, we forged partnerships for new programmes; and in northwest Namibia, we continued our long-term monitoring programme, working closely with communal, private and public stakeholders, and we supported several giraffe conservation translocations. Against all the odds, it has definitely been a busy year for GCF.
Giraffe conservation cannot be addressed in isolation. This last year, GCF expanded its environmental education reach and materials across the continent, particularly amongst people who share their living space with giraffe. We are committed to enhancing conservation capacity and to instilling a way of life that embraces conservation principles in Africa by engaging with different people on all levels.
Get Involved, Stay Involved
Donations are the bread-and-butter of our conservation work.
Your donations directly contribute to our ability to ensure a sustainable future for giraffe in Africa.
Giraffe Adoptions give you a personal connection to GCF’s work.
Much like donations, adoptions directly fund our conservation work.
Spread the Word
Wear our official apparel to support our work, and our message.
By buying official GCF gear, you’re supporting our work in two ways:
- You are literally wearing the message to help spread the word about giraffe endangerment.
- Funds from each purchase directly support our conservation work in Africa.