Murchison giraffe in the wild 

IMAGE: JP 2017

Numbers of giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) in the wild have declined by almost 30% since the 1980s. They face numerous threats including habitat loss, poaching, disease, war and civil unrest.

Welcoming giraffes back to Edinburgh Zoo in 2021 involved building a partnership with Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), the only organisation in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffe in the wild throughout Africa. GCF are an international science-based conservation organisation that provides innovative approaches to save giraffes in the wild.

As well as raising awareness and funds to halt the silent extinction facing giraffes, the RZSS WildGenes team is helping GCF monitor their giraffe reintroduction programmes across Uganda. Using DNA from samples collected by GCF, the RZSS WildGenes team is investigating the genetic diversity of translocated giraffe populations.  

By understanding the genetic diversity of the founders of a population, we can inform the GCF team about the genetics of the translocated herd and begin to forecast what the future for the population may look like and whether further reinforcement efforts may be required. 

Our Partners

Project type

Conservation genetics icon

Conservation genetics

The team

Dr Alex Ball

Dr Alex Ball

Conservation programme manager (RZSS WildGenes)

Liz Heap

Liz Heap

Senior lab technician (RZSS WildGenes)

Laura Daniels

Laura Daniels

Assistant conservation project officer

Helen Senn 2024

Dr Helen Senn

Head of conservation and science programmes

Jo Howard-McComb

Dr Jo Howard-McCombe

Research Scientist (RZSS WildGenes)

Project updates

Date: January 2023

HRH The Princess Royal visited Edinburgh Zoo to celebrate over ten years of ground-breaking research at our WildGenes laboratory and the extension of this vital partnership to protect giraffes in the wild.

The wildlife conservation charity’s royal patron enjoyed a tour of the UK’s only zoo-based conservation genetics lab and learned about the partnership between RZSS, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky which brought giraffes back to the capital in 2021 and supports giraffe translocations in Uganda. 

HRH The Princess Royal unveiling RZSS WildGenes plaque in mansion house with CEO David Field, Chair Mary Bownes, Head of conservation and science programmes Helen Senn and Hamish Torrie, Glenmorangie


Ways you can support

Three Dama gazelle in the wild 

IMAGE: Pixabay

Become a Conservation Champion

Conservation Champions are helping to save 50 of the world's most endangered species from extinction. Give from £1 a week to £1 a day and join a growing group of caring people like you, committed to saving animals in danger.

Help save wildlife
Meerkat sitting on a rock with legs outstretched. IMAGE: Amy Middleton 2023

Connect your business to nature

You can get involved in our work via corporate partnerships, corporate sponsorships, exclusive volunteering opportunities, in-kind gifts and much more. Being a corporate partner is a unique path to meeting your business and corporate social responsibility needs.

Find out more
A gentoo penguin swimming Image: Rhiordan Langan-Fortune 2024

Join RZSS as a member

RZSS membership provides much more than just free entry to Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park. Your membership helps support our charity's conservation work around the world.

Become a member