Ranger Diaries: Madikwe’s Giraffes
Although we can never guarantee a sighting of any specific animal, it is safe to say that no safari in Madikwe Game Reserve would be complete without a giraffe encounter. And fortunately, Mateya Safari Lodge lies within a Senegalia- and Vechellia-rich biome, and we have several perennial water sources which means giraffes flourish here.
There are four distinct species: the Southern, Masai, Reticulated, and Northern giraffes.
There has been a scientific (and somewhat semantic) debate over the speciation of giraffe for a long time, mainly due to insufficient research. Until a recent study conducted by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, it was commonly accepted that giraffe consist of one specie and arguably nine subspecies.
But that study, which focused purely on genetic material, strongly suggests that there are four distinct species: the Southern, Masai, Reticulated, and Northern giraffes. Where the semantics come in is with the definition of the word “specie”, being a group of organisms that can exchange genetic material and interbreed. Although the four suggested species can interbreed under captive conditions, they do not do so in nature where their respective distribution overlaps. Thus, the argument has not been concluded yet.
In Madikwe Game Reserve we see the Southern giraffe, and although it is a common sight, the specie as a whole is listed as vulnerable, with a 30% drop in numbers in only the past 30 years.