Operation Twiga: Zoos supporting Rothschild’s giraffe conservation

Author(s)Liza Dadone, VMD
Year Published2017
JournalAZA Website, aza.org
Page Numbers34-39
Size1.19 MB

Giraffe are one of the iconic megavertebrates of Africa but have not been seen as a conservation priority until recently. In December 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reclassified giraffe from a species of Least Concern to one that is Vulnerable to extinction. Population surveys indicate that giraffe are suffering a silent crisis in that their numbers have decreased by almost 40 percent in the last 30 years, and yet, this decline has received little media attention. There are now approximately 100,000 giraffe remaining in the wild, with most populations decreasing or unstable. Currently, there are nine recognized subspecies, but new research indicates there may instead be four distinct species. Habitat degradation, population fragmentation and poaching are implicated in their population decline. The Rothschild’s giraffe is one of the most at risk subspecies and is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. Of the approximately 1,250 Rothschild’s giraffe remaining, 85 percent live in the north side of Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park. Now that oil has been discovered and mining rights have been granted within the park, this ecosystem is at risk. While preventing the oil company from drilling might be ideal for the wildlife, immediate action was deemed necessary to protect the Rothschild’s giraffe. This report details the specifics of Operation Twiga as well as current giraffe conservation efforts.

Key Words: Giraffe, Rothschild's giraffe, Operation Twiga, World Giraffe Day, conservation, translocation, Uganda

Author: Liza Dadone, VMD

Published on the AZA website, aza.org

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