Conservation genetics of an isolated giraffe population in Swaziland

Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) are a critical component of the savannah’s browsing guild (Birkett, 2002), although their distribution is discontinuous and the species has declined over most of the range (Fennessy, 2008). Often confined to protected areas, management of the giraffes has increasingly focused on maintaining small, closed populations including private lands or conservation areas (Brenneman et al., 2009b). The mating system and social structure of giraffe evolved in large, continuous savannah habitats. Females may only be sexually receptive for a few days every 2 weeks of oestrous cycle (Bercovitch, Bashaw & del Castillo, 2006), and males will travel up to 20 km per day in search of oestrous females (Du Toit, 2001). The nature of their highly varied range sizes (van der Jeugd & Prins, 2000; Fennessy, 2009), and potential for long distance seasonal movements (Le Pendu & Ciofolo, 1999; Berger, 2004), makes understanding the potential impacts of managing giraffe as closed, fragmented populations an important research goal.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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