Newly fitted GPS monitors keep giraffes’ tails wagging

...as researchers and students collect data to protect this iconic species
Four new satellite GPS telemetry were fitted on giraffes in Etosha National Park and Ehirovipuka Communal Conservancy recently. This was done by NUST’s Biodiversity Research Centre (BRC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism; the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF); and the University of Namibia’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Prof Morgan Hauptfleisch (right, crouching) fitting a tail unit with experts from GFC and NUST graduates.The exercise was done under the auspices of the ORYCS project, a Namibian-German research project, in collaboration with Potsdam University, Germany. “Namibia is one of the few places where giraffes are adequately protected and their numbers are growing. Therefore, understanding their movements, what they eat, and how they react to human encroachment can be used for their global protection,” said Prof Morgan Hauptfleisch, the BRC Head and Associate Professor, from NUST’s Faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences.

Due to their unique physical structure, it is not a simple task to fit GPS monitors on giraffes. The GCF was the first to use GPS satellite units and have been evolving them for the last 20 years. “In July, NUST and GCF tested a new device that can be attached to the tail of the giraffe. This could replace the previous technology which is fitted to the horn of the animal,” Prof Hauptfleisch explained.

In the past, research showed that ossicone (horn) GPS devices got damaged on a regular basis when giraffes fight, and in general, the process to fit the device was a lengthy one. “The tail units take a minute, at most, to fit, and since this specie does not respond well to anaesthetics, we need to get the animal back on its feet as quickly as possible,” Prof Hauptfleisch elaborated.

The device provides information on the feeding requirements and preferences of animals, and identifies obstacles tomigration and possible sites of human-wildlife conflict. “After two weeks of observation, I am pleased to note that tail trackers are performing well,” remarked Jackson Hamutenya, a Researcher from GCF.

To find out about the programmes offered in the Faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences, scan the QR Code in the bottom left corner.

Date: 
Friday, August 27, 2021
for Month: 
August, 2021

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