Saving the Last West African Giraffe
With new estimates of a little more than 600 West African giraffe (G. c. peralta) remaining in the wild, this subspecies of the northern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is in urgent need of long-term protection. West African giraffe have been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008 and the only remaining population lives approximately 60km south-east of Niger’s capital Niamey in the aptly named ‘giraffe zone’. Giraffe are the only large wild mammals remaining in this communal landscape where they share their habitat with people and their livestock. The Niger Government continues to do an amazing job to ensure the future of this giraffe population, however, none of this important work can be done in isolation and GCF has been involved in giraffe conservation in Niger for more than a decade. Together with other partners, GCF supported the development of the Niger National Giraffe Conservation Strategy – the first of its kind – and has since been involved in various conservation efforts including the development of a new Strategy in 2015.
Most recently GCF joined forces with the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) to increase giraffe conservation support in Niger. Together the two organisations now employ a dedicated team in the country, including a Conservation Programme Officer responsible for giraffe and antelope conservation.
As such, GCF and SCF continue to provide financial and technical support to the Niger Government and the Association for the Valorisation of the Ecotourism in Niger (AVEN). AVEN is an association of ecotourism guides who facilitate giraffe tourism in the area and help protect this endangered giraffe population through a host of related activities. AVEN staff undertake regular monitoring of giraffe in the area and participate in annual giraffe counts. At the same time, they raise awareness for the importance of giraffe and cultural heritage with local people sharing their living space with giraffe in order to reduce human-wildlife-conflict. Our support to AVEN includes the purchase of equipment (uniforms, GPS, camera, motorbikes), office renovations, environmental education, annual giraffe surveys, translocation assessments and local capacity building.