World Giraffe Day

We won’t have a society if we destroy the environment.” Margaret Mead

“The question is: Are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?” David Attenborough

“Nature teaches beasts to know their friends.” William Shakespeare

Map of African Giraffe distribution showing Niger highlighted and the location of the West African Giraffe population
Map of the distribution of Giraffe in Africa, with the location of the West African Giraffe population in the south-west of Niger (edged red)

Tomorrow, 21st June, is the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere, and it is World Giraffe Day.

You may ask why the need to celebrate Giraffe Day at all? The answer is that if we don’t watch it we will not be celebrating but commemorating the day the last giraffe passed away.

There are 120,000 giraffe in the wild in Africa. Full stop, that’s it. Not millions of giraffe as there used to be, but just that small number.

There are four species of giraffe, and of them there are only about 600 West African giraffe left. All of them are in the south-west of Niger. To give you some context, Niger is the largest country in West Africa, six times the size of Great Britain and one seventh the size of the USA. Over 80% of Niger is in the Sahara Desert, and it is one of the world’s poorest countries.

By the mid-1990s there were only 49 West African giraffe left in the wild.

Then the Niger government partnered with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and other conservation groups. The numbers increased to the 600 animals in two populations that there are today in Niger.

What does it show? It shows that with care, redemption is possible. Animal populations can be protected and increased.

Watch the video and maybe think about how you can help.


  1. Joan E. Miller says:

    Thanks, David, for supplying us with the staggering number of animals that remain. There must be involvement and education at the local levels to protect and increase the giraffe numbers. It’s not enough for outsiders to care. The communities must support conservation in their daily lives. I hope more people will do so.


    1. Thankfully, many conservationists have learned the lesson that it is essential to get the local community involved. And the tide of history is on their side – and maybe just in time for redemption.


  2. Stev says:

    Save The Gentle Giraffe Populations! A Worldwide BAN on all ‘Trophy Hunting Trips’, AND on all poaching activities in general, would work.


    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree – ban trophy hunting and have done with it.

      But there are lobbies pushing the other way. When I was researching trophy hunting I came across this article in Humane Society International about trophy hunting. The article mentions Safari Club, an organisation that organises trophy hunting trips.

      It is the ‘hearts and minds’ of those people that we need to reach. Demonising them won’t work, education will.

      After I completed my university degree I moved out into the countryside in the UK, started a vegetable garden and hunted for the pot.

      I didn’t absolutely ‘need’ to hunt for the pot but I did it in part because I wanted to get into nature and know that I could actually fend for myself. Oftentimes I got nothing, and that was OK because the real draw was to be out in the countryside with all senses heightened.

      That’s a long way from trophy hunting, which I have never done. But it helps me to see into the minds of trophy hunters.

      Telling trophy hunters that hunting endangers animals is a daunting task. They will come back with ‘facts’ that regulated hunting helps the offset the costs of conservation. And they will want to support their version of the facts because they want the thrill.

      I think the chink in the armour of trophy hunters is the uncomfortable fact that they are not there in the wild, alone. They have their kills set up for them. Sure, there must be danger, but the setup is manufactured, fake. The thrill is an illusion, supported by an industry making money from them.

      “Hunting is not a sport. In a sport, both sides should know they’re in the game.” Paul Rodriguez


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