Giraffe Research

Victoria Falls

Giraffe Research in Victoria Falls

With an estimated population of less than 100 000 individuals in Africa, the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), was up-listed from ‘Least Concern’ to ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2016 and added to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species Appendix II. Threats to giraffe in Africa today include:

  • Human population growth
  • Habitat loss and
  • Changes through expanding agriculture and mining, illegal hunting, increasing human-wildlife conflict and civil unrest.

The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT) began giraffe research in the Zambezi National Park (ZNP) in February 2017. The overall aim was to assess the giraffe population in the park and in so doing contribute to giraffe conservation efforts in Zimbabwe. As a species, the giraffe is now listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species but the South African giraffe sub-species (Giraffa camelopardalis Giraffa) found in Zimbabwe is yet to be rigorously assessed. This project aimed to address this knowledge gap in scientific research with an aim to provide further understanding for conservation of the giraffe sub-species in Zimbabwe.

The Zambezi Giraffe Project was inspired by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), a Namibian NGO focused on the conservation and management of giraffe throughout Africa. As well as compiling a continent-wide giraffe photo-identification database, GCF’s goal is to further understand the social structure, population dynamics and inter-species interactions of this relatively understudied but iconic African mammal.

ALERT informally partnered with GCF to collect baseline data to assess the size and structure of the giraffe population in ZNP and build up a photo-ID database as a precursor for conducting in-depth behavioural and genetic studies in the future. This included weekly field sessions to gather giraffe sightings data comprising location, herd size, and composition, habitat type as well as to take photographs for identification.

The research was complemented by conservation education and awareness-raising activities to raise the profile of giraffe in Victoria Falls as well as across the globe.

Up until the discontinuation of the project in 2020, ALERT contributed more than 400 images in the Wild.ID base which has produced results of more than 200 known individuals within Zambezi National Park.