Updated geographic range maps for giraffe, Giraffa spp., throughout sub‐Saharan Africa, and implications of changing distributions for conservation

Type Article
Date 2019-10
Language English
Author(s) O'Connor David1, 2, 3, Stacy‐dawes Jenna1, Muneza Arthur4, Fennessy Julian4, Gobush Kathleen5, 6, Chase Michael J.7, Brown Michael B.8, Bracis Chloe9, 10, Elkan Paul11, Zaberirou Abdoul Razazk Moussa4, 12, Rabeil Thomas12, Rubenstein Dan13, Becker Matthew S.14, Phillips Samantha15, Stabach Jared A.16, Leimgruber Peter16, Glikman Jenny A.1, Ruppert Kirstie1, Masiaine Symon1, 17, Mueller Thomas2, 9
Affiliation(s) 1 : San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research Escondido CA, USA
2 : Faculty of Biological Sciences Goethe University Frankfurt ,Germany
3 : National Geographic Partners Washington DC, USA
4 : Giraffe Conservation Foundation Windhoek ,Namibia
5 : Vulcan Incorporated Seattle WA ,USA
6 : Department of Biology University of Washington Seattle WA, USA
7 : Elephants Without Borders Kasane ,Botswana
8 : Department of Biological Sciences Dartmouth College Hanover NH, USA
9 : Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung Frankfurt ,Germany
10 : Channel and North Sea Fisheries Research Unit Ifremer, Boulogne‐sur‐Mer, France
11 : Wildlife Conservation Society New York NY ,USA
12 : Sahara Conservation Fund Bussy‐Saint‐Georges, France
13 : Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Princeton University Princeton NJ ,USA
14 : Zambian Carnivore Programme Mfuwe Eastern Province ,Zambia
15 : Northern Michigan University Marquette MI ,USA
16 : Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute Washington DC ,USA
17 : Twiga Walinzi Initiative Laikipia and Samburu Counties Nanyuki, Kenya
Source Mammal Review (0305-1838) (Wiley), 2019-10 , Vol. 49 , N. 4 , P. 285-299
DOI 10.1111/mam.12165
WOS© Times Cited 21
Keyword(s) aerial survey, Africa, decline, endangered, geographic range, giraffe, spatial ecology

Giraffe populations have declined in abundance by almost 40% over the last three decades, and the geographic ranges of the species (previously believed to be one, now defined as four species) have been significantly reduced or altered. With substantial changes in land uses, loss of habitat, declining abundance, translocations, and data gaps, the existing geographic range maps for giraffe need to be updated.

We performed a review of existing giraffe range data, including aerial and ground observations of giraffe, existing geographic range maps, and available literature. The information we collected was discussed with and validated by subject‐matter experts. Our updates may serve to correct inaccuracies or omissions in the baseline map, or may reflect actual changes in the distribution of giraffe.

Relative to the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List Assessment range map, the updated geographic range maps show a 5.6% decline in the range area of all giraffe taxa combined. The ranges of Giraffa camelopardalis (northern giraffe) and Giraffa tippelskirchi (Masai giraffe) decreased in area by 37% (122432 km2) and 4.7% (20816 km2) respectively, whereas 14% (41696 km2) of the range of Giraffa reticulata (reticulated giraffe) had not been included in the original geographic range map and has now been added. The range of Giraffa giraffa (southern giraffe) showed little overall change; it increased by 0.1% (419 km2).

Ranges were larger than previously reported in six of the 21 range countries (Botswana, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe), had declined in seven (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Malawi, Niger, Uganda, and Zambia) and remained unchanged in seven (Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, eSwatini, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, and South Africa).

In Kenya, the ranges of both Giraffa tippelskirchi and Giraffa camelopardalis decreased, but the range of Giraffa reticulata was larger than previously believed.

Our updated range maps increase existing knowledge, and are important for conservation planning for giraffe. However, since rapid infrastructure development throughout much of Africa is a driver of giraffe population declines, there is an urgent need for a continent‐wide, consistent and systematic giraffe survey to produce more accurate range maps, in order to inform conservation and policy planning.

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O'Connor David, Stacy‐dawes Jenna, Muneza Arthur, Fennessy Julian, Gobush Kathleen, Chase Michael J., Brown Michael B., Bracis Chloe, Elkan Paul, Zaberirou Abdoul Razazk Moussa, Rabeil Thomas, Rubenstein Dan, Becker Matthew S., Phillips Samantha, Stabach Jared A., Leimgruber Peter, Glikman Jenny A., Ruppert Kirstie, Masiaine Symon, Mueller Thomas (2019). Updated geographic range maps for giraffe, Giraffa spp., throughout sub‐Saharan Africa, and implications of changing distributions for conservation. Mammal Review, 49(4), 285-299. Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1111/mam.12165 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00509/62106/