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Action plan launched to conserve giraffe in Tanzania

Five year Giraffe Conservation Action Plan is under implementation to research and conserve giraffe in Tanzania, targeting to save it from poachers and ecological destruction.

Giraffes are found striding proudly between the East African wildlife parks in Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda.

The 2020 to 2024 Giraffe Conservation Action Plan is aimed at improving knowledge on the ecology of the giraffe, including its abundance, distribution, the pattern of habitat use, and foraging preference for better conservation and management.

Giraffe is the most revered animal in Tanzania under strict protection plans and which is now under research and conservation plan to save it from natural disasters including its abundance, distribution, the pattern of habitat use, and foraging preference for better conservation and management in the wild.

The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) said in a statement that the Action Plan will also focus on the physiology, diseases and their impact on the survival of giraffe for better conservation and management.

“Conservation of giraffe in Tanzania is very crucial as the animal is very important in many ways, including its role as a symbol of Tanzania’s natural and national heritage”, TAWIRI said in its statement.

“Additionally, giraffe is an important species for tourism promotion,” said the statement. Giraffe adds significant values in the tourism sector as a flagship specie that attracts international tourists.

Giraffe population in Tanzania has declined in the past 30 years owing to human activities mostly illegal hunting, habitat loss from expansion of human activities and diseases.

Giraffe, the tallest animal in the world has been listed among the world animals facing a number of threats including diseases,” Dr Julius Keyyu, the Tanzanian wildlife researcher said.

He said that diseases currently affecting giraffes are the Giraffe Ear Disease and Giraffe Skin Disease reported in southern Tanzania’s famous Mikumi and Ruaha National Parks.

Encroachment of wildlife habitats had been a catalyst speeding up the loss of range lands for wild animals with a threat to giraffe extinction due to loss of natural habitats.

The Giraffe Conservation Action Plan has been designed to guide the implementation of local and national activities to conserve giraffe in Tanzania, one among the most tourist pulling wild animals.

Many types of activities are required, including conservation management, research, education and outreach, and law enforcement and other anti-poaching strategies.

Researchers had estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 giraffes are found living in Tanzania today, but facing great threats that could lead to their extinction.

Tanzania loses 400,000 hectares of forest cover annually with a 15 percent reduction of natural vegetation cover in the last decade.

Giraffe are social animals that live in loose, non-territorial, open herds that range in size from a few individuals to more than one hundred.

Giraffe is a National Animal in Tanzania and as such is protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act No. 5 of 2009, which prohibits people from killing, wounding, capturing or hunting a giraffe.

Although Tanzania’s constitution does not directly mention it as the national animal, the giraffe is prominent and important emblem in Tanzania.

It has been used as watermarks on Tanzanian banknotes issued from independence in 1961 to the 2011 series.

Illegal hunting of giraffe primarily for meat, hides, bones and tail hair has been taking place in Tanzania. In some parts of the country, Tanzanians also use giraffe products for traditional medicine, in particular, bone marrow and brains, which are believed to cure HIV/AIDS, wildlife researchers said.

Highway killing of giraffes was the other threat reported to minimize the number to this famous animal. The extent to which road kills threaten giraffe in Tanzania is unclear, but road carnages have been counted in various areas where highways cross the giraffe habitats. 

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