Study investigates impact of lions living alongside giraffe populations

New research from the University of Bristol is calling for an urgent review into how populations of giraffes are managed in the wild when living alongside lions.

Study investigates impact of lions living alongside giraffe populations
A giraffe and her calf Credit: Zoe Muller

It is regularly acknowledged that lions are the main predators to represent a hazard to giraffes on an individual premise yet there has never been an examination to explore how the nearness of lions impacts on the populace in general.

Now, a new study by the Bristol scientists suggests that if lions are kept in the same conservation area as giraffes, the number of calves is likely to be reduced, maybe as much as 82 percent.

The study explores how the populace demography of giraffes varies between two contiguous locales – one without any lions, and one with a high thickness of lions, and found that the nearness of lions significantly affects the demography of giraffe populaces.

In territories containing no lions, the giraffe populations contained 34 percent of adolescents (people not as much as a year old) yet within the sight of lions, it just contained six percent adolescents.

Bristol Ph.D. student Zoe Muller said, “It is thought that lions preferentially target giraffe calves in the wild, and there is anecdotal evidence of this, including observations of lions eating young giraffe carcasses and of lion claw marks on adult females (thought to be a result of them defending their calves).”

“However, no-one has ever investigated if this preference for hunting calves has an impact on the population as a whole.”

Giraffe populations have declined by 40 percent over the most recent 30 years, and there are presently thought to be less than 98,000 people staying in nature.

In acknowledgment of their exceptional decrease in the wild, they have as of late been recorded as “Powerless” on the International Union for Conservation in Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Zoe said, “This research has significant practical implications. Giraffes are a threatened species, suffering an ongoing decline in the wild, and this research highlights how managing giraffes alongside lions inside a conservation area (a common practice in Africa) have detrimental effects for giraffe populations.”

“The continual loss of juveniles within a population due to lion predation may lead to an unrecoverable situation where the population crashes since population growth and sustainability rely on enough calves surviving until they are sexually mature.”

This examination features the requirement for a pressing reassessment of how populaces of giraffes are overseen in the wild, given their Vulnerable Red List status and extreme and continuous decay. Scientists are next planning to replicate the findings in other areas of Africa.

The study ‘Population structure of giraffes is affected by management in the Great Rift Valley, Kenya’ by Z. Muller in PLOS One

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