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Kordofan giraffes are critically endangered and fighting for survival

A three-year population study has shed new light on the plight of the critically endangered Kordofan giraffe in Cameroon’s Bénoué National Park. 

Led by experts from the University of Bristol, the research has been pivotal in understanding the dire situation faced by Kordofan giraffes. The study provides crucial data that may aid in their survival.

Focus of the study 

The researchers analyzed various sources of imagery, including camera traps, to establish a reliable count of the remaining Kordofan giraffes within the park. 

The findings are the first to offer a dependable estimate of the giraffe population size in this region. This data is a critical tool for conservationists to monitor and understand the threats facing these majestic creatures.

Key insights 

Alarmingly, the study revealed that as few as 27 Kordofan giraffes may remain within Bénoué National Park. 

This revelation highlights the urgency and importance of ongoing conservation efforts to mitigate threats, primarily from poaching and increasing human encroachment.

Dire situation 

The situation is dire, as giraffes in the park are frequently targeted by illegal hunting. Another concerning study led by the same team found that if unaddressed, the poaching of just two Kordofan giraffes annually could lead to the subspecies’ extinction within 15 years. 

Since 2017, the Bristol Zoological Society has been at the forefront of efforts to conserve the Kordofan giraffe in Cameroon, where their numbers have plummeted by 85% since the 1980s, leaving fewer than 2,000 individuals in the wild.

Conservation efforts are vital 

“Our study has shown a significant population of Kordofan giraffes still occur within the park, with many more living in the surrounding landscape,” said study lead author Connor Parks, a master’s student at Bristol Vet School. 

“It also emphasises that continued conservation efforts are vital if we are to further support the subspecies in Cameroon. This should include strengthening existing anti-poaching regulations and protecting wildlife movement corridors.”

Broader implications 

Dr. Caspian Johnson, a conservation scientist and lecturer at the Bristol Zoological Society, added a broader context to the situation. 

“Habitat degradation and illegal hunting has already seen the loss of cheetah, black rhino, and all resident elephants from Bénoué National Park. It is paramount we do not lose another precious species from this area,” said Dr. Johnson.

“These studies provide us with the crucial baseline data needed to determine how giraffe population size and structure may change in the future. This will help us inform the conservation action and management practices needed to protect giraffe in Bénoué National Park.”

More about Kordofan giraffes

Kordofan giraffes are a subspecies found primarily in Central Africa. They are notable for their unique physical and behavioral characteristics. Kordofan giraffes inhabit the savannas, grasslands, and open woodlands, particularly in regions of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, and possibly western Sudan.


Physically, Kordofan giraffes are smaller in size compared to other giraffe subspecies. Their coat pattern is less pronounced and more irregular, often with smaller and more irregularly shaped spots that are paler in color. This pattern extends down the legs, which is a distinguishing feature from some other subspecies whose patterns fade towards the lower leg.


Kordofan giraffes are herbivorous, feeding primarily on leaves, flowers, and fruits, especially from acacia trees. Their long necks and tongues are well-adapted for reaching foliage at heights inaccessible to other animals, playing a crucial role in their ecosystem by spreading seeds and affecting the growth patterns of trees.

Social lives

These giraffes are social animals, often seen in loosely organized, ever-changing groups. Unlike some other giraffe subspecies, they do not have a strict social structure, and group compositions can change from day to day.


Kordofan giraffes face significant threats from habitat loss due to human activities like agriculture and deforestation. They are also vulnerable to poaching for their meat and hide. These factors have led to a decline in their population, making conservation efforts vital for their survival. Despite these challenges, they remain a symbol of the diverse and rich wildlife of Central Africa.

The study is published in the African Journal of Ecology

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