Giraffe Conservation Foundation

Focussed on giraffe, a species facing a 'silent extinction'..

Dr Julian Fennessey and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF)

GCF is currently involved in giraffe conservation initiatives in 15 African countries. Their involvement ranges from programme implementation to providing technical support to partners, from conservation monitoring to hands-on conservation actions, from direct to indirect support.

In the 1980s, the total number of all giraffe in Africa was estimated at more than 155,000 individuals. Today, the current Africa-wide giraffe population is thought to be approximately 111,000 individuals. The IUCN Red List has declared Giraffe as vulnerable as a species, but with a number of sub-species listed as Critically Endangerred or Near Threatened.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only NGO in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffe in the wild throughout Africa.

Dr Fennessey added: “The time is now. If we don’t come together to save giraffe it could be too late.”


Dr. Fennessy is the co-founder, executive director, and conservation scientist of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). It is the only international organization dedicated to securing the conservation of giraffe in the wild.

As one of the foremost experts on giraffe, he is also founder and co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, which brings together the world’s experts on these two species.

Julian has initiated or supported research and conservation projects across Africa for many years, working closely with all stakeholders, from communities to academics, NGOs, and governments, on all nine currently recognized subspecies.

The experienced gained from involvement in projects has enabled Julian to understand the needs of giraffe conservation in various parts of Africa as well as the people that live alongside them.

“I am absolutely amazed that no one has a clue,” said Dr Fennessey. “This silent extinction. Some populations less than 400 populations. That is more endangered than any gorilla, or almost any large mammal in the world.

Listen to Julian on a podcast talk about the work of GCF - August 2020.

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Recent research (by GCF) has shown that there is not only one, but four distinct species of giraffe (previously it was thought that it was a single species with 7 recognised sub-species.

The four distinct species are Masai giraffe (G. tippelskirchi), Northern giraffe (G. camelopardalis), Reticulated giraffe (G. reticulata) and Southern giraffe (G. giraffa). The Angolan giraffe (G. g. angolensis) and South African giraffe (G. g. giraffa) are the two subspecies of the Southern giraffe. Nubian giraffe (G. c. camelopardalis), Kordofan giraffe (G. c. antiquorum) and West African giraffe (G. c. peralta) are the three subspecies of the Northern giraffe. Rothschild’s giraffe is genetically identical to the Nubian giraffe. As the nominate species, Nubian giraffe takes precedence and Rothschild’s giraffe is thus subsumed into it.

All four giraffe species and their subspecies live in geographically distinct areas throughout Africa.

Source: Giraffe Conservation Foundation

Julian is a true giraffe guru. He is the founder and co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group and completed his PhD on Namibia’s desert-dwelling giraffes. You won’t meet a couple more dedicated to the conservation of giraffes in the wild. There are few species more iconic and representative of Africa than giraffes, and I’ve seen them pretty much everywhere I’ve ever travelled in Africa, so why are folks like Julian and Steph worried about their future? - Dr Tammie Matson (zoologist and author).

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Who is the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF)? Find out who we are and what we do to save giraffe (video) - May 2020.

Operation Twiga IV - Bringing giraffe back to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, Uganda (video) - April 2020.

Halting the demise of giraffe by Travel Africa - January 2017

The neglected giraffe: world’s tallest animal in need of conservation assistance by Jeremy Hance with Mongabay - June 2013

Giraffe Conservation Foundation - Annual Report 2019/20 (PDF)

Africa’s Giraffe – A Conservation Guide (PDF)


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