Protecting the endangered Rothschild's giraffe at Woburn
Working hard for giraffe conservation
Woburn Safari Park takes conservation seriously and is this year working hard to protect Africa's tallest species - the Rothschild's giraffe. With the popular 'VIP Up Close Encounters' beginning again in the spring with giraffe, visitors can enjoy the opportunity to get up close to these magnificent animals and learn lots more about them from a knowledgable keeper.
During these incredible activities, visitors will learn about the animals’ behaviour, welfare, diet, breeding and the leading conservation activity being carried out at the Park and supported in the wild to ensure their welfare and help save these species from extinction. By speaking with a ranger and meeting the animals, visitors can better understand their plight in the wild as the experience becomes personal, real and relevant. It costs from just £79 for up to four people and includes entry to the Road Safari and Foot Safari, a guidebook and an experience certificate.
Woburn Safari Park is a leading conservation centre in Europe and works closely with the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) on vital breeding programmes at the Park in case introductions into the wild become necessary to ensure their survival. The Rothschild's giraffe are often referred to as ‘Africa’s disappearing mega herbivores’ because wild populations have significantly declined as a result of poaching and habitat loss. Since 2013, it's thought there are less than 1,000 Rothschild giraffe left in the wild, with the species now completely extinct in seven African countries.
Lindsay Banks, Senior Keeper at Woburn Safari Park said: “Long term conservation is crucial to the survival of the Rothschild giraffe and this requires a combination of activity in the wild to prevent numbers from declining and breeding programmes to ensure that there are healthy reserve numbers in the captive population. Woburn Safari Park is working closely with the EEP to implement a so far successful breeding programme for this rare giraffe species and promotes and raises thousands of pounds in funding for organisations dedicated to their conservation in the wild.”
Woburn Safari Park has contributed significant funding to projects by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation’s (GCF) including Operation Twiga, which is an important translocation projection for the Rothschild's giraffe.
Julian Fennessy, the Co-founder of the GCF and Co-chair for the International Union for Conservation of Nature SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group said: “It is time for the international community to stick their necks out to save the giraffe before it is too late.”
And this is exactly what Woburn Safari Park has and will be continuing to do. Next year sees a critical time for the giraffe at the Park. In line with the building of a new giraffe facility, Woburn will focus on a year of fundraising for this species. This will include special evening events, opportunities to see behind the scenes at the new giraffe facility along with all the usual fun activities and raffles. In addition to these events the giraffe keepers will be undertaking a number of physical challenges throughout the year which will culminate in a sponsored climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Woburn Safari Park is home to a large herd of Rothschild's giraffes and its breeding programme has been so successful that it has already led to many individuals born at the Park being transferred to breed with other genetically important individuals across Europe’s captive population.
Woburn is one of the first to allow a herd to calve the young as a social unit, with all members taking an active interest and learning from the birthing process. This is part of a new management strategy which allows for a focus on natural social groupings, nutrition and providing variety like that found in the wild. Woburn is also currently the only safari park or zoo to have implemented ‘browse’ feeding within the enclosure which enables natural feeding behaviour.
This year, the giraffe keepers will be holding a special charity weekend from 18th-21st of June to raise money for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.