As a science-based organisation, our programmes and initiatives throughout Africa aim to provide innovative and adaptive approaches to giraffe conservation management while working with government agencies and a wide range of partners on the ground and internationally to secure a future for giraffe.
Through our Giraffe Conservation Health initiative, we are tackling these priorities from a veterinary science and conservation medicine perspective.
This new initiative incorporates a wide range of aspects, from evaluating the best immobilisation practices for giraffe, addressing disease threats and health issues in wild giraffe populations and enhancing capacity building of the next generation of Africa’s wildlife veterinarians, to assisting in the development of new technology for satellite tracking and methods for conservation translocations.
Immobilising giraffe is a challenging task that many wildlife veterinarians shy away from. While their long neck and graceful legs make them one of the most iconic animals in Africa, this unique anatomy and physiology requires a true mastery of wildlife capture and immobilisation. In the past giraffe mortality from anaesthetic procedures has been as high as 10% – even higher in some countries. This means that it was widely accepted that one in every ten giraffe died during capture or anaesthesia – to put this in perspective, the risk your pet dog will not survive an anaesthetic procedure with your local veterinarian is one out of every 2,000 dogs. However, with constant scientific analysis of current immobilisation practices and advanced training, we can significantly reduce this risk and bring it close to zero. In an ideal world we would not need to put giraffe at risk through immobilisation, however, it is a critical part of some of our work, where we learn so much more about giraffe to inform our conservation programmes (Twiga Tracker), undertake conservation translocations that have already expanded the giraffe range in Africa by over 6.5 million acres (Operation Twiga), and also the quick and effective treatment given to giraffe entangled in illegal wire snares that truly help saving these species. Working together with the foremost wildlife veterinarians and wildlife capture teams in Africa, it is our goal to develop best practice guidelines and equip wildlife veterinary and capture teams with experience and knowledge to ensure the safety of wild giraffe.