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, only 45,400 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.