About This Project
Many people don't realise there are four species of giraffe, two of them with subspecies! Kordofan Giraffe are one of the three subspecies of the Northern Giraffe.
Zakouma National Park in Chad, conserves half of all known Kordofan giraffe in the world, estimated at approx. 2000 individuals.
This project will conduct the first census of giraffe in Chad, by using photo identification to assess the population number, dynamics and spatial ecology within Zakouma National Park.
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What is the context of this research?
The conservation status of Kordofan giraffe in the Republic of Chad is little known. Currently, giraffe only inhabit Zakouma National Park in Chad, and it is now thought to contain half of all known Kordofan giraffe in the world, with none in captivity.
No on-ground surveys of giraffe have ever taken place in Chad, with aerial surveys providing all current population estimate. Aerial surveys are not considered to be an effective monitoring tool for giraffe, as their feeding and behavioural ecology leads them to spend prolonged periods of time under tree canopies.
Situated in the south-east of Chad, Zakouma is one of the last remaining intact Sudano-Sahelian ecosystems in Africa, and has been under the management of African Parks Network since 2010.
What is the significance of this project?
There are less than 100,000 giraffe worldwide, with 40% decline over the last 30 years. Some areas have seen 95% decline in local populations.
New research has shown there are four species, and five sub-species, with Kordofan giraffe thought to number 2000 individuals.
One goal of this project is to provide base-line data of Kordofan Giraffe to be assessed by the IUCN. A listing on the IUCN Red List will provide global understanding and a platform for Kordofan Giraffe conservation, bring much needed funding opportunities, and influence among environment agencies.
Working with the Chadian Government, African Parks and Giraffe Conservation Foundation a National/Park Giraffe Conservation Strategy and Action Plan will be developed.
What are the goals of the project?
Using photo identification and pattern identification software, this project will establish a population size through mark-recapture methods and develop an individual ID portfolio of Zakouma's giraffe. By using drone footage, it will be possible to monitor the giraffe in a non-invasive manner to establish herd structures and areas being used.
Preferred habitats, food sources and spatial needs will be assessed using GPS movement data and identifying vegetation. Predator interactions will be monitored by identifying scar marks on living giraffe, and posting camera traps at giraffe carcass sites.
The project will commence in November 2018, and work in the field will take place between November-May.
Camera: To aid in photo identification of every giraffe encountered.
Camera traps: To observe and photo giraffe at night, and in a non-invasive manner.
Laptop: To process all photographs, and add into online database. To write reports and assess data gathered.
Drone: To aid in easier counting and ecological monitoring of giraffe from a distance (up to 7km away), which means areas unsafe to walk or drive to can be explored. Pictures, videos and GPS locations can be gathered this way in a non-invasive manner for the animals, and safely for researchers.
Flights, ground travel, shipping and security: To get the lead researcher and equipment to research site which is in a remote area.
By the end of this first field season, you can expect updates on the project population count (so far), how many males, females, and juveniles we found, any interesting behaviours and feeding preferences, as well as what our findings mean for the project and giraffe going forward over the next three years.
I will aim to do an online report every month of the project and a more substantial report at the end of the first field season in the summer of 2019.
May 09, 2018
Nov 10, 2018
Travel to Zakouma National Park, Chad. Meet the Zakouma team, begin set up.
Nov 15, 2018
Day one of photo identification of Giraffe in Zakouma National Park.
Dec 15, 2018
Report first month's sightings and events.
Dec 20, 2018
Deploy camera traps at identified sites.
Meet the Team
Lead Researcher - Dominique Rhoades. UK based ecologist, and international wildlife researcher, Dominique has lead and worked on projects all over the world from Andean Condors in Ecuador to Whale Sharks in the Seychelles. She has monitored giraffe in South Africa and Namibia, using the same photo id techniques this project will carry out.
Research Assistant - Local Chadian Student tbc.
Security Guard - Chosen from the Zakouma African Parks Rangers team.
I was four when I decided I wanted to work with giraffe in Africa. So when I finished school, I completed an animal care course, went to work at a Safari Park in the UK for the next ten years, eventually looking after the Rothschild Giraffe, and taking a few months out each year to work on various conservation projects (Loggerhead Sea Turtle Conservation in Greece, Whale Shark research in the Seychelles, Corncrake Breed and Release in the UK, Andean Condor research in Ecuador, among others). I have since worked as a licensed ecologist in the UK, working to protect and conserve European Protected Species.
I wasn't very engaged at school, as I knew what I wanted to do, and no-one was supporting me, telling me "it's totally unrealistic to work with giraffes" and "that's not a real job".. When I reached 26 I went to university as an adult learner, obtaining a first class degree with honours in Animal Conservation and Biodiversity. With a very clear goal in mind I focused on giraffe as much as possible in every essay and project set.. Which led me to giraffe recognition as a monitoring tool in wild giraffe.. And the rest is history as they say! Now I'm so excited to be leading this vital giraffe research project, where I can use all my experience and skills to ensure my life long ambition of saving giraffe!
It is my aim to write up the Kordofan Giraffe project to form a PhD thesis.
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- $51.83Average Donation