DEREK E. LEE
Organization: Dartmouth College and Wild Nature Institute
Research: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Studying Conservation Demography of Masai Giraffe in Tanzania Using Photographic Mark-Recapture
Species/Topic: Masai Giraffe
The giraffe indicates the health of Acacia savanna ecosystems, but is declining precipitously throughout its range. Little is known about giraffe demography which is an impediment to its conservation. We are examining spatio-temporal demography of Masai giraffes in the fragmented Tarangire Ecosystem of northern Tanzania. Our objectives are to estimate population size, reproductive success, juvenile survival and growth rate, adult survival, and movement probabilities among seasons and years and at five spatially distinct sites with different management strategies, and test for differences in these vital rates according to site, protected area status, lion density, intraspecific densities, other ungulate densities, nearby human population, vegetation characteristics and phenology, prevalence of Giraffe Skin Disease, and— over the longer term—climate. Our ultimate goals are to improve understanding of population dynamics of this African icon and use our results to conserve the Masai giraffe in one of its few remaining strongholds, the Tarangire Ecosystem.