Date of Award

8-2022

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Biology

Program

Biology (MS)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Alec Lindsay

Abstract

Giraffe populations across their range have declined significantly over the past 40 years. Recent studies of these declines noted that conservation efforts often lack basic population estimates and descriptions of demographic parameters such as sex- and age-specific survival rates. I addressed those research needs for a geographically-isolated population of giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) in South Luangwa Valley, Zambia. During 2016 to 2018, collaborators opportunistically photographed giraffes throughout South Luangwa National Park and adjacent Lupande and Lumimba Game Management Areas. Given that each giraffe has a unique spotting pattern, I created a photo inventory of the population and developed an extensive giraffe encounter database. I used this database with associated geographic and demographic data to: 1) develop a mark-recapture based population estimate in each of the three sampled years [mean = 555] for the Luangwa Valley giraffe population, and 2) estimate annual sex- and age- specific survival rates. Photographs will continue to be submitted in subsequent years, so the database developed for this study will form a substantial base for future demographic and ecological studies. The demography results gathered for this giraffe population will be used to inform status updates to the International Union of Conservation of Nature Red List and assist Zambian wildlife management agencies in decisions that affect the South Luangwa Valley giraffe population.

Access Type

Open Access

Available for download on Tuesday, August 01, 2023

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