Kenya is home to three of the four giraffe species and Masai giraffe occur in central and southern Kenya.

Formerly the most populous giraffe with an estimated 71,000 individuals three decades ago, less than 35,000 Masai giraffe remain in the wild today.

Masai giraffe are listed as Endangered on the IUCN RedList and are also widely distributed Tanzania. An isolated population of Masai giraffe exists in the South Luangwa Valley in northeastern Zambia (formerly known as Luangwa or Thornicroft’s giraffe) and an extralimital population (outside their natural range) in Akagera National Park, Rwanda.

One of the greatest threats to Masai giraffe in Kenya is the rapid increase and expansion of human populations and settlements. Habitat loss and fragmentation due to increasing pressure on land for agricultural and pastoral use, poaching for bushmeat and traditional medicine, and prolonged droughts are undoubtedly the most severe threats to Masai giraffe survival in the wild. As recent examples, parts of Nairobi National Park were set aside for the expansion of a bypass road and a single gauge railway now skirts through part of the park. Similarly, more wildlife habitat is being developed for agriculture in and around many giraffe areas, including Masai Mara Game Reserve and Amboseli National Park.

With the support of GCF, the Kenya Wildlife Service developed the countries first-ever National Recovery and Action Plan for Giraffe in Kenya (2018-2022). A key aspect highlighted was how little is known about the socio-economic and cultural importance of giraffe in Kenya. With support from local conservation partners, GCF conducts human dimension surveys in Kenya in a bid to identify and map trouble areas for giraffe to target anti-poaching efforts and document socio-economic and culture values.

As Masai giraffe move across national borders (transboundary) and occur widespread across the region, this species offers an excellent opportunity to study the spatial ecology of giraffe. By better understanding preferred core habitat of giraffe, access to seasonal browsing areas, extent of giraffe home range and habitat connectivity, we hope to identify wildlife corridors, poaching hotspots and generate valuable information for protected area and wildlife conservancies planning. Twiga Tracker, an initiative of GCF and partners, is fitting GPS satellite units on all giraffe species throughout the continent and Masai giraffe are a priority species.

Last but definitely not least, GCF is conducting the first-ever detailed surveys of Masai giraffe in the Masai Mara ecosystem, and together with our partners we are gaining a better estimate and understanding of Masai giraffe and their range in the Amboseli and Tsavo ecosystems.

This programme is supported by: