Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Talks Giraffes

We have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2013 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a 13 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

Have you heard of The Call of The Wild Speaker series at The Houston Zoo?  The Zoo has many important people who work directly with endangered or threatened animals and has them speak in the evenings at the Brown Education Center.  The speakers are people who have a passion about the wildlife they work to protect and share a lot of their knowledge with their audience.  The speaker series is open to anyone who wants to come. All you have to do is just sign up on the website.

I recently got to listen to Julian Fennessy at the Speaker Series talk last month.  He is the Executive Director of Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and he is very passionate about giraffes.  He shared some information with us about giraffes that I was not aware of.

I always pictured there to be plenty of giraffes roaming the savannas of Africa, but I discovered that is not exactly true.  Giraffe populations are falling very fast and there are many reasons for that.  The first reason is poaching.  I never thought that someone would actually poach a giraffe, but they are actually another source of bush meat that is often sold illegally in markets.  Giraffes are actually easy to hunt because they  pretty much stand still and glare at the threat before they run away.  This makes them easy targets for poaching.  Some people believe that giraffe hair is lucky, so their tails are cut off to get the hair to make bracelets and jewelry.

Another threat to the giraffes is loss of their habitat.  Many times the land the giraffes live on is clear cut for agriculture and to harvest lumber, which causes the giraffe to have to move elsewhere, but they are running out of space to move.

giraffe

What Julian and his group do is study the giraffes and their movements.  This is not an easy task, so one way to do this is to attach a satellite tracking collar to the giraffe’s neck.  Julian explained that this is a tricky thing to do, but through hard work and taking some time, the tracking collars are placed on the giraffes.  The Giraffe Conservation group tracks the giraffes’ movements using GPS units.

The Giraffe Conservation Fund is working hard to protect the giraffes in Africa.  Through educating the public and the people who live and work around the giraffes in Africa, our giraffes will have a chance at survival.  You can help the giraffes too by telling others about the giraffe issue and donating your used GPS devices to the Houston Zoo.  Just drop them into the cell phone recycling box beside the entrance to the guest service office at the entrance of the Zoo.  They will send them to the GCF to help track the giraffes’ movements in the wild.  Every time you visit the Zoo you help save animals in the wild!



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