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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > January-March 2017 (77) > The secret is in the genes

The secret is in the genes

New DNA analysis is helping conservationists fine-tune their approach to giraffe protection



Where once there was one giraffe species with various subspecies, new research points to the existence of four distinct species: the northern, southern, Masai and reticulated giraffe

It wasn’t so long ago that scientists believed there was only one species of giraffe, with nine subspecies scattered across the African continent. In fact, this was the prevailing wisdom until less than six months ago… when researchers announced new data suggesting giraffes should be categorised into four distinct species: the northern giraffe, southern giraffe, Masai giraffe and reticulated giraffe. The findings were the result of a collaborative effort between the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and Dr Axel Janke of Germany’s Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre.

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