This 15-year-old male feels very big and strong. He knows that he is a match for any other giraffe who comes his way and has been very successful in fighting for his right to mate. But with all of his success he is still in trouble. Humans have made things very difficult for him. They have taken his home and have often taken a shot at him (good thing he’s so quick!) He wishes they would leave him alone but they won’t. He must always remain vigilant and ready for any attack.
The tallest living animal in the world, the giraffe tower over the savannas of Africa. It’s good that they do because a group of giraffes is aptly named a tower! These groups usually are of 10-20 members who can come and go as they please. They move around, searching for mimosa and acacia trees where they get their food, spending only 20 minutes each day sleeping. The spotty pattern on their coat is unique to each animal, just like our fingerprints. The Masai Giraffe has distinctive, irregular, jagged, star-like spots.
Giraffes give birth standing up, a bit of a heart-wrenching thought when you think how far the newborn baby will have to fall, a whopping 5 feet! These hardy babies are even more impressive in that they can stand after half an hour and even run 10 hours after they are born. The newborns are very vulnerable to predators and spend the first few weeks hiding. If a predator approaches, the mother will stand over her calf and kick the threat away with her long legs. Mothers and calves travel with other mothers and calves in nursing herds, keeping each other safe as a group. Occasionally a mother may want to leave to forage or drink away from the herd, leaving her baby in the care of another female, this is called a calving pool. If a threat appears the responsible female will alert her own calf, the other babies will catch on and follow.
It wasn’t until quite recently that it was discovered that giraffes can be separated into different species. In 2016 a study claimed that there are four; southern giraffe (which has two subspecies), northern giraffe (which has three subspecies), reticulated giraffe, and Masai giraffe. The study claimed that the species did not interbreed and had not for 1-2 million year.
As a whole, the giraffe is listed as vulnerable but the Masai and reticulated species are endangered. The Masai populations have been estimated to have declined by 52% in the past few decades, mainly due to habitat loss and poaching. As agriculture moves into the savannas and the need for firewood increases in those areas, they lose their land and also their favourite acacia trees, making it harder for them to find food. Their tail is also used for good-luck bracelets, fly whisks and thread.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtag #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/