The Nigerien giraffe lived in pockets across the Sahel and Savanna regions of West Africa. Intensive farming and hunting practices, human encroachment, a series of dramatic droughts since the late 1800s, and environment destruction (both natural and human made) have all contributed to their dramatic decline.
The droughts have created wide spread suffering, but one subspecies Niger giraffes almost became extinct . The seven subspecies of giraffe range throughout Senegal, Niger, eastern Mali, northern Benin, northern Nigeria, southwest Chad and northern Cameroon. However, the Populations from northern Cameroon and Southern Chad.
The Endangered Niger giraffes (camelopardalis peralta), are the most imperiled. They have cream colored legs almost devoid of spots and tannish colored body and face spots. The Niger, also called the Nigerian giraffe does have the long, 18 inch black tongue, which is used to pluck leaves from trees and bushes. They can live for 25 years and go without water longer than a camel.
The Nigerien giraffe population relies upon seasonal migration between the relatively drought-resistant lowlands of the Niger River valley and the drier highlands near Kouré. In this area, Tiger bush habitat allows for bands of trees to thrive in climates which might otherwise become more typical desert. These giraffe survive primarily on a diet of leaves from the following plants the Acacia albida, Hypaene thebaica, the Annona senegalensis, Parinari macrophylla, Piliostigma reticulatum, and Balanites aegyptiaca.
In the late 1990s, a government sponsored wood cutting project around Niamey nearly destroyed the Tiger bush and giraffe habitat within the region. Now the Nigerien government has limited woodcutting in the area Conservation efforts and a sizable growth in populationfrom 50 individuals, in 2007 to 175 wild individuals today.Intensive efforts have been made within Niger, especially in the area just north of the Dosso Partial Faunal Reserve. From there, the largest existing herd migrate seasonally to the drier highlands along the Dallol Bosso valley, as far north as Kouré, some 80km southeast of Niamey. Governmental and international efforts are spear headed by Association pour la Sauvegarde des Girafes du Niger who maintains the habitat, smooth relations between the herd and area farmers, and provide opportunities for tourism,
Excerpts and Image courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_African_Giraffe
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