The Who Is Who Of Giraffe – Unravelling Giraffe Genetics

It was widely accepted that there was one species of giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis and nine subspecies. However, based on our ongoing work with our partner Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, it was just published that there is in fact four distinct species of giraffe and five subspecies (see more info in recent update). These findings are ground breaking and will help us make better decision with regards to future giraffe conservation and management.

All subspecies live in geographically distinct areas across Africa and while some of the species have been reported to hybridize in zoos, there is little to no evidence that this occurs regularly in the wild.

For over a decade now, GCF has spearheaded a long-term effort to unravel the mystery of giraffe genetics and their taxonomy. As our part of this collaboration, GCF and partners concentrate on the field work for this programme by collecting DNA skin samples from almost every major giraffe population across the African continent. At the same time, BiK-F in Germany has provided immense support by analysing all samples and interpreting the data in close collaboration with us and other giraffe conservation experts in context of geography, phylogeography and conservation.

While our field sampling is largely completed, a few (less easily accessible) populations still need additional sampling. Please contact us, should you want to provide financial support or are in the position to help with collecting or providing additional samples from Cameroon, CAR, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.

This programme is supported by: