Alabama Safari Park Sticks It's Neck Out for Giraffe

February 17, 2021

It's no tall tale, Reticulated Giraffe have been classified as Endangered.

Alabama Safari Park works with zoos across the world to give voice to the silent extinction of Giraffe. This beloved giant is well equipped to handle lions and hyenas, but comes up shorthanded when faced with habitat loss and poaching. It's estimated that over 30% of wild giraffe populations have been lost since 1990s with minimal commentary.

Giraffe populations struggle due to habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and poaching. Illegal hunting in Tanzania has impacted Giraffe populations due to a misinformed new belief that giraffe brain and bone marrow can cure HIV-AIDS. In the Congo, poachers are interested in a different body part: the tail. The unusual hunt is motivated by local tradition when the tail is used as a marriage dowry to the bride's father. Demand for Giraffe tail is also fueled by tourists who may be unknowingly purchasing souvenirs made out of the long black hairs. Giraffe tail is used to make trinkets such as good-luck bracelets, fly whisks, and thread for sewing or stringing beads. Most of these products originate from South Africa where Giraffe products can be sold legally.

It's no wonder saving Giraffes seems like such a daunting task. Giraffe currently occur in 21 African countries facing different threats that need a wide range of conservation approaches to secure their future. Luckily, the Alabama Safari Park is willing to stick it's neck out for Giraffe. This summer the Park hosted a fundraising campaign for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation's (GCF) project known as the "Twiga Tracker." Twiga is Swahili for Giraffe. The Twiga Tracker project is the largest Giraffe GPS satellite tracking program ever conducted in Africa, with a goal to track a minimum of 250 wild Giraffe to better understand their behavior and the challenges they're facing. Each specialized tracking unit costs $2,500 and the cost to deploy these units in the field is estimated at an additional $5,000.

In an effort to save Giraffe, the Alabama Safari Park hosted behind the scenes tours to meet the newest members of the herd up close and personal. Guests were surrounded by everything Giraffe. They learned about husbandry care for captive animals, as well as the conservation issues facing wild populations. Tours provided a behind the scenes look at Giraffe holding facilities, a custom designed Giraffe transport trailer, and a one-on-one close-up feeding experience with the resident Giraffe herd. The event was successful with nearly 100 behind the scenes Giraffe encounters conducted. A total of $5,000 was raised for the conservation program.

The Alabama Safari Park is excited to partner with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to help with their continued success. "Our animal ambassadors play an important role in giving a voice to their wild counterparts by raising awareness and offering financial support" say Katy Massey, Conservation Coordinator. "The issues facing wild Giraffe are intimidating, yet it is important to keep in mind that, while there is life, there is hope. We will continue to support one another in this fight to save this gentle giant, the Giraffe."