It was a privilege to spend part of April 2016 with the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program, hosted at White Oak Conservation along the Florida-Georgia border. Every two years, EWCL brings together 20-24 international fellows from various conservation and wildlife industries for an intensive 18 month fellowship program. Training in conservation strategy, career development, wildlife policy and legislation, team-building, and communications is augmented by one-on-one mentoring sessions, fellow and alumni networking, and the opportunity to spend 18 months working directly with a leading conservation NGO or partner organization.
I have spent the past year working with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation out of Windhoek, Namibia. Giraffe in the wild have seen a 43% decline over the last decade, with the total population estimated at less than 80,000. The research of the GCF team, and the broader efforts of the IUCN Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, have informed a proposal for reassessment of giraffe conservation status, currently under review by the IUCN.
The EWCL Giraffe Project is comprised of myself, Megan Haidet – Seeds of Success, Caitlin Kelly – Defenders of Wildlife, Dr. Kathayoon Khalil – Seattle Aquarium, Dominic Nyathi – Painted Dog Conservation, and Kelly Stoner – Ruaha Carnivore Project. Together, we are conducting the first comprehensive in situ trade survey of giraffe as bushmeat, medicine, and traded parts (pelts, hairs, etc). Our survey will establish a baseline in the peer reviewed literature for the status of giraffe trade, and will inform future conservation efforts, such as a potential CITES listing. If you can help us distribute this anonymous survey to contacts who may have seen giraffe parts being traded, legally or illegally, contact me for details on how you can help.
We anticipate an IUCN announcement in fall 2016, for which we have a tiered communications plan to promote international media coverage, should an uplisting occur.