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.

Their range covers central and southern Kenya and most of 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.

Giraffe are the national animal of Tanzania and the country is home to the largest population of Masai giraffe in the wild. One of the greatest threats to Masai giraffe 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.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), GCF is helping to drive Masai giraffe conservation efforts and mitigate threats.

In December 2019, the TAWIRI launched the first-ever Tanzania National Giraffe Conservation Strategy and Action Plan with the initial technical and financial support provided by GCF and USAID Tanzania PROTECT. This National Conservation Strategy and Action Plan provides a framework for protecting and managing giraffe populations in Tanzania. Stakeholders set two primary goals to address giraffe conservation issues in Tanzania:

  1. to broaden understanding and awareness of giraffe conservation in Tanzania; and
  2.  to reduce threats to giraffe populations and their habitats in Tanzania while increasing benefits to people.

GCF employs a proactive approach to giraffe conservation and is currently supporting the implementation of Tanzania’s National Giraffe Conservation Strategy. In February 2020, GCF working with TAWIRI, Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and Wildlife Conservation Alliance deployed 11 GPS satellite units on giraffe in Tanzania as part of our larger Twiga Tracker programme and to better understand Giraffe Skin Disease (GSD) in the country. This programme will provide the first-ever detailed understanding of occupancy and utilisation of giraffe habitats, the extent of movements, home ranges and seasonal dynamics of habitat usage, and whether or not giraffe utilise corridors for travelling to core areas of importance e.g. transboundary landscapes or between protected areas.

Giraffe Skin Disease has been identified as a threat to giraffe in Tanzania. The country is a hotspot for GSD (characterized by crusty, greyish-brown lesions that appear on the legs of giraffe) with some of the highest prevalence rates recorded in the wild: 86 % of giraffe population in Ruaha-Rungwa ecosystem are affected, 63% in Tarangire ecosystem and 23% in Serengeti ecosystem. In collaboration with local and international conservation partners, GCF intends to further support the collection of samples throughout the major ecosystems in Tanzania and better understand the pathophysiology and causative agent of the disease to help determine management recommendations.

Furthermore, GCF seeks to continue our support of targeted giraffe population surveys in Tanzania and conduct comprehensive genetic sampling of giraffe throughout the country.

This programme is supported by: