Bristol Zoo on the front-line of conservation

Posted: 21st March, 2018

Dr Grainne McCabe, Will Walker and Osiris Doumbe from Bristol Zoo spent more than three weeks in Bénoué National Park, Cameroon setting up motion-sensitive cameras to track the Kordofan giraffe. Each month footage from the cameras will be sent back to Bristol to help Dr McCabe and her colleagues identify individual giraffes and build up a database.

Dr McCabe, head of field conservation and science at Bristol Zoological Society, said the cameras were already proving successful: “We have caught a group on camera with two babies which proves the population, though small, is still breeding.”

Dr McCabe and her colleagues also trained eco guards to use the cameras and provided equipment to help on their regular patrols, including portable water filters, tents, uniforms and boots.

The patrols are crucial in tackling the problems of illegal activities ranging from hunting to illegal cattle grazing, gold mining and the theft of infant giraffe for private collections. Giraffe populations across Africa have fallen by 40% in the last 30 years. The patrols will hopefully mean giraffe can breed normally and build-up their numbers, which in turn will bring tourists back to Bénoué National Park and benefit the whole economy.

Dr McCabe said: “We really felt that we were on the front-line of conservation where the threats are severe and the population is quite low.

“We saw and experienced some challenging things out there but we have the capacity to make a significant difference.”

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