Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Giraffes fitted with GPS collars

I was going to write a bit about the western shore of the Sea of Galilee that I discovered yesterday but this piece of news was brought to my attention and it is so unique I had to share it with you!

As you know, before I started The Adventure with Sophie La Girafe, I did not know much about Giraffes, I did not know there were nine species of them. And I did not know there were issues.

Those past years giraffes have been threatened by desertification and droughts of their land, and as they have less and less to eat, they start invading neighbouring fields, causing extensive damage to crops and angering farmers who know how to use riffles.(source)

Giraffe tails are also highly prized by many African cultures. The desire for good-luck bracelets, fly whisks and thread for sewing or stringing beads have led people to kill the giraffe for its tail alone.
Thankfully Giraffes are protected by amazing decidated groups.
One of them is the British Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). They have started fitting the giraffes with camouflaged GPS collar (photo here) in order to track them, understand their roaming and in the end protect them and the local populations. To fit the collar on a giraffe neck is not a small task as you can imagine. The Giraffes must be anesthetized and the fitting must be done in less then 30 minutes otherwise the giraffe may not survive. 7 people participate in that operation and they are all experts.
Another group is doing a lot for Giraffes. The Association for Saving the Giraffes of Niger, has focused on educating locals and compensating them for crop losses caused by giraffes. Killing a giraffe is also punishable with a five year jail-term.  They also began a program that hopes to shift villagers' perceptions of giraffes from foe to friend by providing microloans to villagers who engage in giraffe-friendly behavior. It also encourages tourism related to giraffe viewing. The result is that villagers now appreciate the animals because the animals have brought development to them. (source)
I am very admirative of people who work "behind the scenes" and are dedicated to their cause whatever it is. Next time I see a real Giraffe (Sorry Sophie! ^__^) I know I will look at her in a different light.

This picture is quite special.
Mother and Baby Giraffe's pix was taken n the Kidepo National Park, Uganda in 1967

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