IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


15th June, 2023 Environment

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  • Masai giraffes are found near the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.
  • Study found them more endangered that they were considered previously.
  • For thousands of years they are unable to interbred or exchange genetic material, gene flow, owing to the division of population in two parts.

Other Details

  • The division of population is caused by the Great Rift Valley.
  • No overlapping genes or gene flow were found between the east and west side giraffes as they could not climb the steep cliffs of the Gregory Rift escarpments.
  • It hints that in no female migration across the rift for the purpose of breeding.

The Great Rift Valley and Gregory Rift escarpments

  • In general rift valleys are lowland region formed due to split in tectonic plate by tectonic activities of Earth.
  • It is a series of geographic trenches spread in an area of 7000 kilometres.
  • This is the geologically active area and has many associated active features like geysers, volcanoes, hot springs etc.
  • The extension of this rift valley is in Africa from Lebanon (in the Middle East in the north) to Mozambique in the south.
  • Gregory Rift and the Western Rift are part of The Great Rift valley system.

East African Masai giraffes

  • These giraffes are native to East Africa particularly found in Tanzania and southern Kenya.
  • These are also referred to as Kilimanjaro giraffes.
  • Their scientific name is Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi.
  • In last three decades, population of this subspecies has significantly reduced from 70,000 to 35,000.
  • In Tanzania and Kenya their populations is divided into two by the gregory Rift escarpments (GRE).


  • Pressure on land has increased due to agricultural and pastoral activities. It led to fragmentation of habitats.
  • Due to poor gene pool they are susceptible to diseases and show a poor calf survival.
  • They are hunted for bushmeat.
  • Some parts of these elephants are believed to be useful in traditional medicine hence more poaching activities.
  • Droughts for long periods.
  • Translocation of giraffes, for interbreeding purposes, seems highly impractical.


  • Helps in improving biodiversity of areas as they are helpful in pollinating plants. They do so by dispersing seeds.
  • They also support in controlling the abrupt growth of invasive or other type of vegetation.
  • These support local community livelihood and an important source of their income.
  • They also support tourism thus increasing the revenue for the local and national governments.

IUCN Status

  • In 2019 they were declared endangered


Masai giraffes are beneficial to the survival of the ecosystem in East Africa. Elaborate. This subspecies of giraffe is on the verge of extinction. Highlight the associated reasons which threatens their survival in the wild.

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