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QuarterlyconservationupdateKordofangiraffe(Giraffacamelopardalisantiquorum),GarambaNationalPark,

DemocraticRepublicofCongo

AprilJune2017

MathiasDhaenCzechUniversityofLifeSciences(CULS),Kamck961/129,16521Prague6-Suchdol,CzechRepublic

IntroductionGarambaNationalPark(GNP)intheDemocraticRepublicofCongo(DRC)wasfirstestablishedin1938,oneof thefirst inAfrica,byvirtueof itsuniqueness.Throughout its longhistorytheParkwas firstmade famouswith theworldsonly elephantdomesticationprogram, coupledwith itshigh numbers of elephant and buffalo, and home to the worlds last northern white rhino(Ceratotheriumsimumcottoni)population.Additionally,theParkwasdesignatedaUNESCOWorldHeritagesitein1980andontheListofWorldHeritageinDangerin1996.Sadly,theParksinfamyhas increased through losing the last northern white rhino, and being plagued by numerousgroupsofrebels,inparticulartheLordsResistanceArmy.In fact, thePark,beingnestled in the farnorth-easterncornerof thecountry, iswritinghistoryeverydayagain,notbecauseofthecountriesowndestabilisedpolitics(the2,000kmbetweentheParkandthecountriescapitalcreatesanefficientbuffer),butbecauseof itswaragainstarmedmilitiacomingfromneighbouringcountries.GNP, and its adjacent Hunting Reserves, are also home to DRCs only population of giraffe,historically named Congo giraffe (Amube et al. 2009; De Merode et al. 2000; East 1999) butgeneticallyidenticaltootherKordofangiraffeacrossCentralAfrica(Fennessyetal.2016).Duetoillegalhunting,currentgiraffenumbersintheParkandsurroundingareaswerereportedto be less than 40 individuals and less than 2,000 Kordofan giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalisantiquorum)remaininthewild(Mulleretal.2016).ThenumbershaveneverbeensolowsincethefirstaerialcensusofGarambaNationalParkwasundertakenin1976,when350giraffewereestimated(Savidgeetal.1976).Interestingly, poaching of giraffe by local tribes living in the adjacent Hunting Reserves toGarambaNPhasbeenrelativelylimited.Thisisbecausetheybelievethatconsuminggiraffemeatcausesleprosy.However,somegiraffewerepoachedinthelastdecadefortheirtailhairwhichisastatus symbol for tribe chiefs (African Parks, 2012). Amube et al. (2009) reported that thetraditional taboos have largely died outwith the influence ofmodern society and the invadingmuharaleenhorsemen,whospecificallyvaluegiraffetailsaspartoftheirdowries,haveincreased

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theirillegalhuntingofgiraffe.AdeclineingeneralwildlifepopulationsintheParkisfurthermorelinked to post war instability, power struggles and exploitation of resources, particularly fromneighbouringcountries(HillmanSmith&Amube2005).ThegiraffepopulationoftheDRCwasformerlyrecognisedasaseparatetaxon,theCongogiraffe(G.c.congoensis),butnumerousauthorshavesincesubsumed it intoG.c.antiquorum,andmorerecentlyasubspeciesoftheNortherngiraffe(Giraffacamelopardalis)(Fennessyetal.2016).Inthecontextoftheabove,theDRCInstitutCongolaispourlaconservationdelaNature(ICCN)andAfricanParksNetworkhasbeenundertakingkeyconservationandmanagementofthePark,and more recently a focus has been on preserving the last remaining giraffe. The GiraffeConservationFoundation(GCF)withassistancefromitspartnershasprovidedsometechnicalandfinancialsupporttothePark,andthelatestisthroughmyconservationresearcheffortstoassessthesituationandtodevelopanadequatemanagementplanfortheremaininggiraffepopulation.This quarterly conservationupdate provides an overviewof theworkundertaken fromApril June2017,andisafollowuponapreviousquarterlyupdatesthatcoverstheworkundertakeninOctoberDecember2016andJanuaryMarch2017.UpdateonpopulationdynamicsBeingdispersedoverfourdifferentregions,Garambasgiraffearecategorisedintofourcategories(East, Northwest, Southwest and West). Besides two bigger populations in the East andSouthwest, therearetwosmallpopulations intheWestandNorthwest,hometo3and4girafferespectively.Duringthisreportingperiodfournewgiraffewereidentifiedwhichisapositive.

Figure1.PopulationdynamicsofgiraffeinGarambaNPcategorisedbyregion.

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Figure2.SatelliteimageofGarambaNPcontainingsuitablehabitatforgiraffeandborderedall

aroundbydenselywoodedareas.

The population dynamics of Garambas giraffe are highlighted below. The age class ratios arecurrently1:0.27:0.12 (adult68.1%:sub-adult19.1%: juvenile12.8%),while thesexratio is1:0.51(Female66%:Male34%),comparedtotheassumedaverageof1:1(Female50%:Male50%).

Figure3.AgeclassratiosofGarambasgiraffecomparedwithNamibiandata(Fennessy,2004).

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37.2

55.8

12.819.1

68.1

juv sub-adult adult

AgeClassRatioNamibia Garamba

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Figure4.SexRatioofGarambasgiraffecomparedwiththeexpectedaveragesexratio.

De-collaringoperationsOf the eight giraffe that were originally fitted with a GPS satellite collar (head harness) inJanuary/February2016, fivehadalreadybeenremovedor fallenoffasofMarch2017.The lastremainingthreecollarswereremovedduringthisreportingperiod.GIR43F,namedMwambe,wascollaredon3February2016andwasthelastgiraffeintheParkwithafunctioningunit.However,whenthegiraffewasspottedon29March2017onadedicatedgiraffeobservation flight, itwasnoticed that theunithadslippeddownon itsneckandactionsmotionedtoremovethecollarassoonaspossibletopreventanypossibleinjuries.On31March2017 with assistance of Dr. Karen Lubbe, the collar was removed successfully. Subsequentmonitoringhasindicatedthattheindividualisingoodcondition.GIR37F,namedMibale,wascollaredon25January2016andsignalsofthecollarwerereceivedup until 11 October 2016. As the animal was coincidentally seen during an elephant collaringoperationon23April2017,theanimalwasdartedandthecollarsuccessfullyremovedbyDrPeteMorkel. The individual has sincebeenseeningoodcondition.GIR42F, named Sambo, wascollared on 30 January 2016 andsignals of the collar were onlyreceived up until 20 March 2016.Because of the densely vegetatedareahe inhabits,observationswererareafterthecollarstoppedsendingthrough signals. It was on adedicated giraffe flight on 17 May2017 that he was spotted and DrKaren Lubbe successfully removedthe collar on 23 May 2017. Theanimal has since then been seen ingoodhealth.

50

27

50

14

Average

Garamba

SexRatioFemale Male

Figure5.Photoofthesuccessfulde-collaringoperationofGIR42ForSambo

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GroundpatrolsTwo ground patrols were conductedduring the reporting period. This waslimited due to the environmentalconditions as the grass is extremelyhigh and very difficult to spot anyanimalsinthefield.Thefirstpatrolwasfrom the 26-27 May in the south-western regionwith journalist ThomasNicolon covering a story on GarambasgiraffeforLeMondeandMongaBay.

http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2017/06/11/les-derniers-jours-des-girafes-du-congo_5142308_3212.html

https://news.mongabay.com/2017/05/drcs-garamba-national-park-the-last-giraffes-of-the-congo/

Threegiraffewereobservedbutcouldntbematchedwithotherknownindividuals in thePark.Aftercontinuedobservationsweconfirmedthemtobenewindividuals fortheParkdatabase,apositivestoryinhelpingthepopulationexpand.Anothergroundpatrol,againinthesouth-westernregion,wasconductedfrom8-13Maywiththeobjective to assess the potential of constructing a fenced giraffe enclosure in an area thatwasthoughtsuitable forsecuringpartof thepopulation.Over fivedaysa totalof40km in transactswas walked in the proposed 18km2. During this period, two giraffe were observed and faecalsamplescollected.AerialpatrolsBased on the environmental conditions in GNP during the reporting period, giraffeweremoreeasilymonitoredfromtheParkssmallairplane.Intotal,23giraffeflightswerecarriedoutacrosstheParkwith a total of 105 giraffe observed in29herds.Ongoing analysis of the flight data isoccurring.HabitatmappingThe development of potential giraffe enclosure site for the establishment of a secure andprotected satellite population of GNP giraffe has been identified and assessed with respect tohabitatsuitabilitybyagroundpatrolteam.TheareahasbeenmappedusingaCanon5DMarkIVonadedicatedflighttoproduceahigh-resolutionmap.The constructionof an enclosure toprotect andbreed a secure giraffepopulation inGNP is anaction plan proposed by the Parks management. However, it is decided not to effectuate theenclosureplanbeforea StrategyPlanandenclosureassessmenthasbeen complete.During thefieldassessment,theareawasfoundtobesuitablebutsmallfencingchangesaretobeproposedduetomarshyareas.Wehopethatthismappingisafirststeptobetterassessthehabitatandfromheredevelopatargetedplanbasedonthebestknowledgeavailabletoestablishsuchasecurepopulation.

Figure6.PatrollinginGarambaNationalPark

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NationalGiraffeConservationStrategyandActionPlanUgandaGaramba NPs African Parks Network was invited by GCF to attend the regional workshop todevelop the first-everNationalGiraffeConservationStrategyandActionPlan forUganda. IwasfortunatetoattendthemeetingontheParksbehalfofAfricanParksNetworkasthiswasseenasavaluablelearningexperiencefortheongoingdevelopmentofGNPGiraffeConservationStrategy,theframeworkfortheconservationoftheparksgiraffeinordertosecuretheirfuture.Overthecourseoftheworkshop,alogicalframeworkwasdevelopedtosupportthenexttenyearsof giraffe conservation andmanagement in Uganda by identifying clear objectives, actions andindicatorstobeaddressedinordertomeetthegoalsoutlinedforthenationalvision. Figure7.GroupphotooftheworkshoptodeveloptheNationalGiraffeConservationStrategyand

ActionPlanmeetinginEntebbe,Uganda

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AcknowledgementsI would like to thank DRCs ICCN and African Parks Network for their valuable support anddevelopment of this conservation research. I am especially grateful to Erik Mararv, GarambasParkManager,whotrustedmetoworkonthisproject,farbeforeIhaddeservedthistrust.Also,IwouldliketothankKateSpies,forhertime,helpfulcommentsandencouragement.Additionally, l would like to thank the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and their partners,AntwerpZooandZoodeL

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