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Maki to present on giraffe conservation work


November 19, 2019

Submitted photo

TODD MAKI, of Ironwood Township, works with a giraffe during a recent conservation project in Uganda. Maki will be talking about his trip and the work he volunteered with Thursday at Cold Iron Brewing in Ironwood.


Ironwood - Ironwood Township resident Todd Maki hasn't found a lot of opportunities to use his background working with giraffe since moving to the Northwoods.

So he went to Africa.

Maki plans to offer a presentation about his trip and the conservation efforts he volunteered with at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cold Iron brewery.

In late October, Maki traveled to Uganda for roughly two weeks to help the Giraffe Conservation Foundation relocate a group of endangered Nubian giraffe.

He explained the foundation captured 11 females and four males between the ages of two and six from Murchison Falls National Park and transported them roughly 500 miles to Pian Upe, a wildlife reserve on the border with Kenya.

"This was a park that used to have ... Nubian giraffe two decades ago, and because of civil unrest, military actions, poaching they are not there anymore," Maki said.

Along with expanding the giraffe habitat for population growth and relieving the population pressure on the Merchanson Falls park, Maki said the project splits the population into groups and acts as a safeguard by increasing the chances a group of animals survive something catastrophic - such as a disease outbreak, fire or human intrusion.

The animals were also outfitted with GPS tracking units, according to Maki, so researchers can learn more about the animals.

"We can follow their movements to see if they're staying in the parks, what parts of the parks are they utilizing and we can do research on why are they utilizing those parts and we can make future decisions (on where to release giraffe)," Maki said.

Assuming the giraffe do well in their new habitat, he said the foundation will likely release additional animals there next year.

The trip was the third time Maki has helped collar or translocate giraffe in Africa.

He said he began helping with giraffe work through connections with rhino conservation groups he had while working at Zoo Atlanta in 2002.

"I have interest in giraffe also because that's what I worked with in the zoo, so I wanted to work on a side giraffe project," Maki said.

Maki said these conservation groups put him in contact with Julian Fennessy - the founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation - who Maki helped with field work for the dissertation Fennessy was working on at the time.

Maki called the Uganda trip amazing.

"It was the first time I've been to Uganda, so it's the first time I've been in that part of the continent. I'm used to Namibia, which is desert ... (Uganda) is equatorial," Maki said. "So the vegetation and the terrain was amazingly different. The concentration of animals was extremely different because the population of people in Uganda is so much higher than Namibia. ... So for me to see that amount of animals at one time, all the time, was pretty amazing.

"And then, just the work was very gratifying."


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