The star of Glenmorangie’s striking new gift edition, the giraffe has long been the single malt’s spirit animal. After all, every drop of the Glenmorangie’s delicious whisky is created in stills as tall as these majestic creatures. But although the giraffe is loved at the Highland Distillery and across the globe, few people are aware of the threats it faces in the wild. Numbers have fallen by 30% in just 30 years – and some types of giraffe are now critically endangered.
To play its part in safeguarding the animal’s future and raise awareness of its plight, Glenmorangie has forged a ground-breaking partnership with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, the world’s leading charity dedicated to conserving the animal in the wild. Furthermore, by showcasing three of its most-loved whiskies The Original, The Lasanta or The Quinta Ruban in giraffe-print gift tins, Glenmorangie invites whisky fans old and new to join in raising a glass to the giraffe. To get the full story, we spoke exclusively to GCF’s Namibia-based co-founders, Julian Fennessy, a leading expert in the field of giraffe conservation, and his wife Steph.
The giraffe is such a well-known animal. Why do they need our help?
Stephanie: The giraffe is a real symbol of Africa. It’s probably one of the world’s most iconic animals when it comes to shape – everyone recognises the giraffe! But lot of people don’t realise how threatened giraffe are. There are only about 111,000 remaining in Africa – that’s one giraffe for every four elephants. The main threat is loss of habitat, which is often further fragmented by our infrastructure.
Julian: With less and less space for wild animals in Africa, giraffe numbers have fallen by 30% in 30 years. And since their rapid decline has gone largely unnoticed, we coined the term ‘silent extinction’.
Why did you set up GCF?
Stephanie: In the late 1990s, Julian started researching giraffe for his PhD in Biological Science. When we started collecting numbers and doing research, we discovered very little was known about giraffe. We were shocked to see how few there were remaining – and we realised there were no heroes for giraffe. Lots of people worried about other big animals, elephants, rhinos... but there was no one standing tall for giraffe. So we decided to do it!
Julian: GCF is over 10 years old now, but we are still the only organisation in the world which concentrates solely on conservation and management of giraffe in the wild throughout Africa. We now work in 16 African countries, focusing on countries like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Niger and DRC, where the giraffe is really in trouble... so we have our work cut out for us.
How did your partnership with Glenmorangie begin?
Julian: Glenmorangie has already done lots of vital work in conservation in Scotland. And of course, the giraffe has been the whisky’s spirit animal for years, because it’s the same height as Glenmorangie’s stills. So as you can imagine, there was a natural link with GCF!
What will Glenmorangie’s support mean for GCF?
Stephanie: We’re so excited that Glenmorangie is supporting our giraffe conservation work in Uganda, where we’ve been working for over seven years with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority. We provide all kinds of support, such as equipment to help them count their giraffe better, like binoculars, and cameras. We also provide anti-poaching support, like helping with patrols; we also employ two vets who help de-snare giraffe and we support translocations of giraffe – re-establishing populations where they have become locally extinct.
What does the future hold for the giraffe?
Julian: We have seen already some populations increasing and doing really well. What that requires is dedicated, focused support. We think there is a bright future for giraffe, we just have to keep the foot on the pedal.
How can we help?
Glenmorangie is already doing lots to help – reminding people about the giraffe with this new giraffe-print gift edition and supporting our work in Africa. You can help by telling your family and friends about the plight of giraffe – the more awareness there is, the better! And of course, we need financial support to implement our programmes – giraffe can only be saved in Africa. You can get more directly involved by adopting a giraffe through giraffeconservation.org
. The biggest day for us is World Giraffe Day, June 21 – the longest day for the tallest animal. It’s celebrated around the world and really helps us to create awareness and generate funds... so feel free to join in!
Tell us about your favourite Glenmorangie moment?
Julian: I often take a bottle of whisky to share on our missions. Recently in Namibia we translocated 30 giraffe to three different areas. After we had dropped off the last giraffe, we sat together on the last evening and opened a bottle of The Original. We were in the middle of nowhere, but we had ice in our car freezer and we sat sipping whisky and discussing our partnership with Glenmorangie. Looking out towards Namibia’s largest mountain, Brandberg, and toasting the future of these giraffe with a Glenmorangie single malt... that was pretty cool.