Marasa Africa at the centre of new Rothschild giraffe research effort

MARASA AFRICA AT THE CENTRE OF ROTHSCHILD GIRAFFE RESEARCH

(Posted 09th August 2013)

A new research project is being launched in Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park to research, document and perform genetic analysis on the Rothschild’s giraffe, the tallest creature on earth, dapper in white knee socks (no spotting on the lower leg), and notable for its grace, winsomeness and beautiful patterning. Of the nine recognized giraffe sub-species, the Rothschild’s is one of the most imperiled, with fewer than 1100 individuals remaining in the wild. It has been declared an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and as being of high conservation priority. Murchison Falls National Park is home to the last endemic population of this once abundant animal, all other surviving populations have been reintroduced, and often in areas where they never were originally.

The project is spearheaded by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and will be led by their conservation scientist Dr. Julian Fennessy, a Namibia-based Australian who is also Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group (GOSG), and fellow GCF trustees and researchers Andy Tutchings, a Germany-based British national and Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, and Stephanie Fennessy, a Namibia-based German, both also members of the GOSG. Working closely with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, the team’s local-based researcher will be Henry Opio from the Ugandan Wildlife Education Centre.

Despite low population figures and its endangered status, little is known about the Rothschild’s giraffe in the wild, an issue that must be addressed to develop and implement effective conservation strategies. To this end, the Project seeks to provide the first scientific review of the Rothschild’s ecology, behavior and habitat requirements in Uganda; essential information for the development and implementation of meaningful conservation inititiatives. These include the provision of technical support and funding, data sharing and results for a comprehensive approach to giraffe conservation.

The group will be hosted by Marasa Africa at their Paraa Safari Lodge located near the Nile crossing inside the Murchison Falls National Park. Located high on the river bank the lodge overlooks one of nature’s best kept secrets, the River Nile, on its journey from its source at Lake Victoria to join Lake Albert. It is inside the park where it is suddenly channelled into a gorge only six meters wide, and cascades down the rocks into a white water inferno 48 meters below. When standing on top of the falls the earth literally trembles as one is only a few feet away from one of the world’s most powerful flows of a river..

For more information on the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), go to: www.giraffeconservation.org. For information about Marasa Africa or reservations at Paraa Safari Lodge or Chobe Safari Lodge, contact www.premiersafaris.com

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