Kenya Giraffe Project
Limited research has been undertaken on giraffe across Africa and the KWS together with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), Kenya Land Conservation Trust (KLCT) and the IUCN/SSC ASG International Giraffe Working Group have both identified that the giraffe is of high conservation priority in Kenya yet no systematic monitoring or research has been established.
For example, until very recently, the last major work undertaken in Nairobi National Park was in the 1960s, with a small study in the 1990s, and since then rapid population growth has put significant pressure on the surrounding Kitengela communal area, the dispersal area of giraffe and other species in and out of the park.
Today, many of the giraffe populations are biologically isolated from one another and as such ecologically, and potentially, genetically unique. The Rothschild's giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) is generally regarded as endangered (not formally recognized yet) and although small satellite populations outside of their natural range have been established, little of their ecological needs are known. In contrast, the large numbers of Reticulated giraffe (G. c. reticulata) appeared to have crashed although again little is known.
As an important symbol of Kenya (and Africa), and as such are a key tourism and economic draw card, a greater understanding of the conservation status is required, especially since their numbers appear to have plummeted across Africa: assumed 30% drop in the past decade due to habitat loss and conflict with human growth and instability, to less than an estimated 100 000 individuals.
This project intends to establish baseline ecological and conservation "health" assessment of key giraffe populations (e.g. Nairobi NP, Soysambu Conservancy, Samburu NP) of Kenya's three distinct (sub)species (Masai, Rothschild and Reticulated giraffe respectively). Working collaboratively with the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS), key NGOs e.g. KLCT and African Wildlife Foundation, and private landowners and communities, the project hopes to build robust ecological assessment of the populations. The collaborative efforts seek to provide capacity building and ongoing information gathering to facilitate the long-term success of the project and understanding of giraffe as keystone species.