Wildlife & Biodiversity

African countries propose concerted action to conserve giraffes at CMS CoP 13

International online database, involvement of communities, a conservation fund and translocation guidelines are some of the proposal’s suggestions

By Kiran Pandey
Published: Tuesday 18 February 2020

Seven African countries proposed a plan of ‘concerted action’ for conserving giraffes to be considered at the ongoing 13th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Environment Programme's Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS CoP 13).

These actions that list priority conservation measures were proposed by Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The proposal, prepared in coordination with non-profit Giraffe Conservation Foundation called for the development of Africa-wide, national and regional plans.

The actions include:

  • An online international database to collect and share information and overcome data gaps
  • Understanding the movements of giraffes and their habitats to protect giraffe corridors
  • Inclusion of communities for managing conflicts and ensuring co-existence
  • Assessing feasibility of establishing a giraffe conservation fund to secure funds for giraffe conservation initiatives
  • Africa-wide giraffe translocation guidelines for individual giraffe range states

The population of giraffes has declined by nearly 28 per cent over the past four decades, leaving an estimated 110,000 giraffes in the world, according to most recent estimates of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Of the 28 countries where it used to be found, the giraffe has become extinct in seven — Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal.

The absence of giraffes from their historical geographic ranges in Africa was concerning, the most recent and accurate geographical range map for giraffe in sub-Saharan Africa, said.

Loss, fragmentation and degradation of their habitat, illegal harvesting and trade, disease, and civil unrest are major threats to giraffes. Loss of habitat led by infrastructural developments, along with climate change, was a major factor behind the declining population of the northern Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), claimed a recent study.

Giraffes have also been found to migrate due to over-population and drought. Giraffes in Niger started migrating recently to neighbouring Mali due to the growing population of humans as well as their own increasing numbers.

They had migrated to Niger due to drought and war in Mali four decades ago. Now, they are returning to Mali again.

This is not the first time that countries have called for an action plan to save the giraffe. The proposal for a concerted action for the giraffe was adopted by experts in July 2019.

Actions to conserve giraffes were also suggested at the United Nations-backed Convention of Migratory Species (CoP 12) held in Manila in 2017. It was also listed on Appendix II in the 2017 convention.

 “Conservation and management of migratory species require the concerted action of all range states” the resolution agreed upon in October 2017, said.

The concerted actions would be very effective and are expected to initiate and expedite cooperation between the range states, the proposal submitted to be considered at CoP 13, said.

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