The Terrible Tale of This Rare Giraffe Species and its Tail

It was an exhilarating moment for documentary filmmaker David Hamlin as he rode in a helicopter: the sighting of three rare Kordofan giraffes down below in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Garamba National Park. This doesn’t happen every day. The park stretches over 2,000 square miles, so it’s not easy to spot even one of the park’s 40 giraffes. But Hamlin’s exhilaration turned to horror just 12 short hours later.

“Every Single Giraffe is Valuable”

That’s when Hamlin learned that poachers had successfully targeted three Kordofan giraffes. As the filmmaker tells National Geographic, he had that sinking feeling that the victims were the giraffes he had seen hours later, “It was horrible for me and the team…the crushing realization that most likely it was these guys, the ones we’d seen.”

The filmmaker chose to honor the slain victims with the best tool in his arsenal: film. The film could also help raise awareness of the plight of the Kordofan giraffe in central Africa. And this rare giraffe subspecies desperately needs the help.

Roughly 2,000 Kordofan giraffes are roaming wild today in central Africa. As reported in National Geographic, Julian Fennessy, co-director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, warns that “If the number slips in half, then we’re in a real dire situation. Every single giraffe is valuable.” The rare giraffe appears in central Africa — including Cameroon, Chad and (possibly) Sudan. It’s differentiated by the smaller and more irregular spots found on its inner legs.

Why are Kordofan giraffes being targeted by poachers?

Giraffes are vulnerable to poachers like rhinos and elephants, even though they don’t have valuable horns or tusks. In some communities, villagers target the giraffes for their meat. But giraffes do possess something of cultural significance: tails.

In the case of three slaughtered giraffes in Garamba National Park, the only thing missing from the slain bodies was their tails. Kordofan giraffe tails are considered status symbols, that are sometimes converted into fly whisks. Leon Lamprecht, joint operations director for African Parks, tells National Geographic that the giraffe tails are used “as a dowry to the bride’s father if they want to ask for the hand of a bride.”

Unfortunately, the terrible tale of the Kordofan giraffe isn’t unique to the rare subspecies. I’ve already told you about “the silent extinction” happening now of wild, African giraffes; their populations have dropped a drastic 40 percent since 2001, and there are approximately 90,000 giraffes left. Giraffes continue to be threatened by habitat degradation, poaching, growing human populations, oil exploration, fuel wood collecting and drought.

Take Action!

Sign and share this petition urging central African leaders to protect the last remaining 2,000 wild Kordofan giraffes.

Photo Credit: Gareth Jones

119 comments

JACQUI GLYDE
Jacqueline GLYDE2 years ago

I would love to know who came up with this foolish CRAP in the first place??
Now where did I put that baseball bat!!

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heather g.
heather g2 years ago

Africa's wild animals are plundered by most countries in the world - ivory and rhino horn to the Far East and USA, the pet trade in America, bush meat in African countries ad now killing giraffes. Thank you for bringing this to our attention - petition signed...

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Angela K.
Angela K2 years ago

Petition signed & shared

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Michelle Spradley

Killing an animal for a status symbol is one of the most stupid human tricks ever! The poachers need to read - or have read to them - The Most Dangerous Game.

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Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Just start shooting poachers en masse.

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Telica R.
Telica R2 years ago

Thank you for sharing :)

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Nena M.
Nena M2 years ago

Such ignorance exists in these countries....such absolute ignorance. Educate the people, teach them about their own animals, about respect, about ecology. Our world depends on this.

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Teresa W.
Teresa W2 years ago

horrible

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Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran2 years ago

sad.

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