Reticulated Giraffe Project
The reticulated giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata is one of nine currently recognised subspecies of savannah giraffes. It is not the least numerous but, with a decrease in numbers of at least 80% - from 30,000 to perhaps 5,000 - over the past 10 years alone, it is probably the subspecies in most rapid decline. By comparison with other megafaunal taxa, giraffes have been relatively little studied and most investigations have focused on the southern of two major clades. There are no published studies of the biology or ecology of reticulated giraffes, which may represent the northern clade's earliest discreet lineage. The Reticulated Giraffe Project aims to address this paucity of information by investigating aspects of the animals' behavioural ecology and of the population processes operating upon them.
Social network analysis will be coupled with analysis of DNA and reproductive hormones to interpret observed dispersion patterns; bioacoustics will be employed to investigate the possible use of infrasound as a medium of intraspecific communication; movements, behaviour, energy expenditure and environmental parameters will be measured using remote-sensing devices; and a combination of telemetry, direct sampling and a collaborative network of observers will be used to explore the demography of the population as a whole. The results will inform the conservation and management of those reticulated giraffes that remain.