Rothschild’s Giraffe Now Listed as Endangered Species

31 08 2010
Rothschild's Giraffe

Image of Rothschild's Giraffe in Murchison Falls NP

The giraffe must be one of the unlikeliest animals on the planet.  They are frequently cited as evidence that “God” or “nature” has a sense of humor.

They can be over 5 meters tall, weigh nearly two tons, and have a 45cm tongue that allows them to pluck tiny acacia leaves out from a fortress of thorns.  They have the largest heart of any land mammal, along with specially valved arteries, providing the strong plumbing system needed to get blood all the way up to their towering heads.

Despite their weirdness, or perhaps because of it, few animals scream “Africa” the way giraffes do.  There are nine subspecies of giraffe in Africa, two of which are now listed as endangered by the IUCN.  According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, in their press release titled “Rothschild’s giraffe joins list of species threatened by extinction,” the number of Rothschild’s giraffe left in the wild is now under 670.

Young Rothschild's Giraffe

Image: Young Rothschild's Giraffe, Murchison Falls NP

This means that nearly half of the remaining wild members of this endangered species call Murchison Falls National Park their home.

Endangered Giraffes and Oil

A listing on the IUCN Red List compels governments to try to help keep a species alive.  Will this bring a more critical eye to the oil development that is rapidly expanding in some of the best habitat for these animals?

Giraffes are not subtle animals.  If they are pushed out of the national parks, it’s not like they can hide out in small forest fragments tucked between villages.  Their habitat needs are very specific, which is why their range and distribution are so limited, and why Murchison Falls is the only national park in Uganda where they exist in significant numbers.

The Role of National Parks

One of the main purposes of national parks is to preserve critical habitats for species that can’t survive in a mostly human-altered environment.  Once a species becomes listed as endangered, it means that they are already feeling the pinch and that they could very well be heading for extinction if their remaining habitat is not protected.

Nobody knows yet how any of the animals in the parks will respond to increased oil activity.  When I was at Murchison Falls two weeks ago, the place was crawling with survey crews driving off-track, cutting new tracks, laying cables across the roads, tying survey tape to trees, and filling up the ferry.  There was a sense of bustle that is not consistent with my view of a national park experience, and this is just the survey crews.

Maybe the giraffes will look at the tall, spindly drilling rigs and see a distant cousin.  Maybe they will feel more at home than ever.  But maybe they will think it is time to move on.  I hope not, because they really have nowhere else to go.

Mark D. Jordahl – Kampala




8 responses

28 09 2010
African Honeymoon Safari – Kenya – Giraffe Manor, Cottars Camp, Shompole, Fundu Lagoon

[…] Rothschild’s Giraffe Now Listed as Endangered Species « Wild Tho&… […]

9 09 2010
Animal Annie

Hopefully know that there Rothschild’s giraffe is officially listed as endangered there will be stronger efforts made to preserve the species.

1 09 2010
Tweets that mention Rothschild’s Giraffe Now Listed as Endangered Species « Wild Thoughts from Uganda --

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sheryl Sinkow, petlovelytowel. petlovelytowel said: Rothschild's Giraffe Now Listed as Endangered Species « Wild …: One of the main purposes of national parks is to… […]

1 09 2010

Good information, but I want to add some more …
the Rothschild giraffe is also found in Kidepo Valley National Park and the initially small and dwindling herd was some years ago boosted by a translocation of several females from Kenya’s Nakuru National Park where they enjoyed special protection under a long standing breeding programme, initially proposed by the owners of ‘Giraffe Manor’ in Karen / Nairobi.
The herd in Kidepo has now grown and it is hoped that there are now sufficient animals available to form a breeding group from which the area can be re-populated with giraffes.
Interesting also that I chose the subject of the Rothschild giraffes’ plight in an own article posted two days ago on my blog and soon out on
Thanks for continuing to highlight conservation issues!

1 09 2010
Mark Jordahl

Thanks, Wolfgang. When I was in Kidepo last November, I was told there were between 30 and 40 giraffe at that point. Hopefully on it’s way to becoming a healthy population, but that’s a pretty small gene pool. They certainly have no connectivity to Murchison, but maybe they have some link to other populations in Kenya that I am not aware of.

31 08 2010

Could you write a post of overall oil reserve and production in Uganda? If it’s minimal, then maybe the developing countries could subsidize Uganda for importing their oil and LEAVING THIS PARK ALONE. To all citizens of the planet, parts of Africa are very precious because of its unique wildlife. We need to preserve this. So, let’s subsidize the preservation of national parks and manage it so that our money doesn’t go to dictators and the purchase of weapons.
I’m sick of reading every day that one specie or another is on the brink of extinction and only has less than 1000 of its kind in the wild. I’m sick, sick, sick of this!

1 09 2010
Mark Jordahl

In terms of the reserve, the estimate is 2 billion barrels of oil, and the expected revenues to the government under full production are in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion per year. I think that might be a bit of a stretch in the current financial climate for anyone to cover! However, I just heard from somebody that there is a field in Ecuador where some conservation group is doing just that – paying them NOT to drill. I don’t know what the details are on that, but your suggestion is obviously right on target for some circumstances.

Mark D. Jordahl Conservation Concepts 256 775 295 126 Blog: Website:

“Give me a Wildness whose glance no civilization can endure.” – Henry David Thoreau

31 08 2010
Cheryl F

Oh no! As you know, giraffes are my favorite animal, and the time we spent in the midst of that large group up in the game park was magical! What can we do?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: