All About The Majestic Giraffe With Stephanie Fennessy
This episode of MYD Earth features Stephanie Fennessy, Program Director at the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
A conservationist of note, Fennessy has a range of expertise in the environmental and conservation sectors and has for the past decade been involved in a wide range of giraffe projects across Africa.
MYD: Let’s talk about the giraffe. Tell us a little bit about these amazing creatures?
They’re pretty awesome, they just look really cool. They certainly make me smile every time I see them because they just look so awkward and weird, I don’t think there’s another animal that looks like them and it’s just great to see them and I think most people will agree that no safari, no trip to Etosha is complete without seeing a giraffe.
MYD: Absolutely, they’re so many people’s favourite animals.
Exactly, but funnily enough I’m quite surprised, if you ask people who come to Africa for the first time, they have their wish list and they want to see elephants and lions and probably rhinos, but hardly anyone mentions the giraffe. However, if they go home and they haven’t seen a giraffe then it’s the biggest disappointment. We often call them the forgotten giants of Africa because they go under the radar, everyone just assumes they’re everywhere, especially here in Namibia.
MYD: What is the situation like with the giraffe numbers in Namibia?
Our estimates say that there are only about 95 000 giraffes left in Africa, that’s down from about 140 000 just less than twenty years ago, so the numbers have dropped rapidly and we are always really concerned about the elephant for example. There’s at least half a million elephants in Africa and it is right to be concerned about them, but if you compare the numbers to giraffe there is just far less, so people should really start thinking about giraffe as well, but on the positive side giraffes are doing really well here in Namibia.
We have a sub species called Angolan Giraffe and they are quite frequently found, so we are just finalising a study here in Namibia where we want to get a better grip on numbers and we’ve written to a lot of people, we’ve looked at game counts, and we think there are at least 12 000 here in Namibia which is great, so the numbers are healthy, they are really widely distributed, there’s a lot in national parks, in communal lands and on commercial farms, so it’s really a good success story here in Namibia.
MYD: You’ve also got a very exciting program that’s running in terms of environmental education that’s run by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Tell us about that?
We’ve just launched a program called KEEP, the Khomas Environment Education Program which takes school children from primary schools, preferably Grade 3, Grade 4, for half a day to Daan Viljoen. We talk to a lot of children, we often invited to schools to talk about giraffe and we often ask them, have you seen a giraffe, and we were shocked by how few of them have seen giraffe in the wild. So we thought there’s a real gap here in Windhoek. There is some environmental education going on in Namibia around the country, but there is nothing really in Windhoek and no targeted program, so we thought that’s a gap we really want to fill.
MYD: You’ve just come back from a very interesting project in Uganda, tell us about that?
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation works across Africa. We now have programs or support programs on each of the nine giraffe subspecies, and one of the biggest programs we have is in Uganda. So in Uganda they have Rothschild’s Giraffe, it’s one of the two sub species that’s currently listed as endangered already and we estimate there is about one thousand five hundred Rothschild’s Giraffe remaining.
Listen to the full clip below to hear more about this majestic creature.
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