The Rothschild’s giraffe is one of the most endangered subspecies, with only a few hundred left in the wild
The Rothschild’s giraffe, which resides in Kenya and Uganda, stands a stunning twenty feet in height with a weight of over 2,000 pounds. Fast, agile, and taller than most other giraffes, they are one of the tallest mammals in the world and move swiftly, reaching speeds of over 35 miles per hour. With light brown patches and creamy white legs that almost look like stockings, this particular subspecies is also easily distinguishable from other types of giraffes.
Why Are They In Danger?
The Rothschild’s giraffe is a species in critical condition and in desperate need of help. Unlike many other species of giraffe, which are much better off, they have only a few hundred members (around 600) left in the wild. About 40% of the remaining population lives in Kenya, while the rest (60%) live in Uganda. A large part of this giraffe’s predicament is due to poaching, as hunters from all over the world are willing to pay enormous amounts of money in order to hunt the Rothschild’s giraffe and shoot it. Farming developments are also to blame for the Rothschild’s decline, as many of the giraffes have been driven away from their natural habitats. Besides human intervention, the Rothschild’s giraffe is preyed upon by many animals such as hyenas, lions, crocodiles, and leopards, who attack and kill the youngest and most vulnerable of the giraffes.
Who’s Protecting Them?
Several things are currently being done to help this species. For one, the Rothschild’s Giraffe project was launched in 2010 in order to promote awareness about this animal as well as to put conservation plans in place. National parks and enclosed conservancies are also hosting the Rothschild’s Giraffe to preserve the species and protect it from human threats in addition to the predators mentioned above. The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is also working on reforestation projects. Because a large part of the Rothschild giraffe and similar species’ predicament lies in loss of habitat, the AWF is planting more acacia to enable giraffes to expand their habitat, and hopefully create a safe environment for the Rothschild giraffe’s if they become stable enough to be released back into the wild.
Why Are Rothschild’s Giraffes Important?
Rothschild’s giraffes, and giraffes in general are important to the ecosystem. With their long necks, they have the ability to reach and feed on what most other animals, with the exception of elephants, cannot. They are able to eat without competing with other animals for important food sources. Giraffes also provide an important food to birds. When ticks feast on the blood of the giraffes, the birds feast on the tics and have a safe place to roost while they do so. In addition, giraffes are able to see predators from afar faster than other animals do. When giraffes see predators and run, it alerts other animal to the presence of danger, and they run as well.
Contributed by Nikela Volunteer Sanika Phadnis
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“Rothschild’s Giraffe Project.” Giraffe Conservation Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2016.