Niger rare giraffe population now number 310

View of a giraffe grazing.

In 1996, there were only 50 West African giraffe, 'giraffa camelopardalis peralta', in the world. The rare animal, distinguished by its light-coloured spots and found only in the Sahel, was nearly extinct when a campaign was launched to protect it from poachers.

"Efforts deployed by the government to protect the giraffes have borne fruit as their population has increased to 310 in 2011," the ministry said quoting the result of the latest census.

The giraffes - 146 males and 164 females - live in the vicinity of Koure, a little over an hour by road from the capital Niamey.

The Association to Safeguard the Giraffes of Niger (ASGN), a non-governmental organisation which works along with the French zoo of Doue La Fontaine, has set up community projects in the area to encourage the local population to preserve the giraffes.

Two giraffes were killed by poachers in 2010, but highway traffic, especially at night, is also a threat to the animals.

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