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  • really you?

  • It's an animal you can't help but look up to.

  • But what did we really know about giraffes?

  • Somehow these gentle chants have been overlooked not by one man having dedicated the last 20 years of his life to them.

  • Dr Julian Fennessy knows giraffes betterthan anyone.

  • So I get sick of Vera on what Julian has recently discovered is truly alarming.

  • I'm absolutely amazed that no one has a clue.

  • This silent extinction, some populations, less than 400 individuals in the wind that is more in danger than any gorilla, almost any large mammal in the world.

  • In an urgent effort to help, Julian will travel across Africa, from Namibia to the unsettled border of Ethiopia in south Sudan and on into Uganda.

  • To launch a daring rescue mission with a determined team is very beautiful.

  • That's to be protected forever.

  • There is hope, but Julian and his wife, Steph, know they must act now.

  • It's a very critical time and way have to do something now if we don't and a few years, it might be tonight.

  • Together they're standing tall for a remarkable beast, A true icon of African wildlife have gone extinct in atleast seven countries in Africa.

  • It's not gonna happen again.

  • There is no jury gonna go extinct on my watch, weighing up to two tons.

  • The giraffe is a colossal animal on dhe unlike any other.

  • You have to love something so big and we sort of, you know, out there it's so funky looking.

  • They don't make sense.

  • They've got amazing eyelashes.

  • And, you know, a lot of women love giraffe in their eyelashes.

  • Everybody loves giraffes.

  • I mean, they're a symbol for so many things around the world.

  • In a remote valley, Dr Julian Fennessy has found the intact skeleton of an old bull giraffe.

  • They can see this old ball.

  • He's huge, huge, also kind.

  • The massive bumps on the giraffe's head aren't horns or antlers.

  • They're different.

  • They're called Aussie cones.

  • They actually I, like, can't lead, like in your ear on when they're born, they're flat and then they fold out and they become bone and fused to the skull.

  • Males Aussie cones are much larger on grow increasingly massive over their lives.

  • Thing is a couple of vertebrae here giraffe, but there's only seven vertebrae in the neck, just like all humans and all other mammals.

  • This is the lower leg bone.

  • They kick out at lions and other predators.

  • They just knocked him for six.

  • They did.

  • It's about the same size as my daughter.

  • Julian's kids, Molly and Luca, are seven and 10 on, Just like their Dad.

  • They love giraffes.

  • A giraffe is very tall, has have darts, long legs on dhe, muscle calls and the neck and a tongue as long as her, um, Julian, his wife, Steph, run the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, or G C F from their home here in Finn took the capital of Namibia.

  • It's the first giraffe charity in the world that we spend so much time thinking, talking, looking at giraffe.

  • From here, they work with men and women, of course, the continent to save the giraffe.

  • There is a fine line between brave and stupid, and there's been a bit of a risk put a lot of money on the line.

  • A lot of our life savings really has gone into this moment.

  • It's no coincidence that Julian and his family live in the middle off Namibia.

  • It's giraffe central.

  • The draw found here are called Angolan giraffes.

  • They're one off nine different subspecies of giraffe spread across Africa.

  • It's just two day's drive from Julian's home to a very special place called the Swan Eb River.

  • Julian has been studying the draft live here for almost 20 years.

  • I mean, I remember coming out here for the first time.

  • I had no clue as a young lad had come out from Australia and I ended up sort of in one of the most harshest deserts in the world.

  • Giraffe thrive here to make this place is home.

  • This is where I love to count.

  • This is my own personal space.

  • I feel like I'm growing up with these guys.

  • You know, they might year after year, Julian and Steph have been coming here recording every detail of these animals lives.

  • This pioneering work is crucial to our understanding of Iraq today.

  • At some stage, we decided, let's give it a go.

  • There is just no one else who's looking after Drop that.

  • It's no one really doing the job, and they're pretty amazing animal.

  • I mean, if you see them out in the wild, I don't think this any animal like them that's so unique and iconic.

  • Steph and Julian have gathered tens of thousands of photographs on meticulous notes in a system they've invented to tell each draft apart.

  • Every single giraffe has a unique pattern, just like a fingerprint of a human.

  • I see a butterfly or see a sailing boat in one of the sport's Julian Bond.

  • See that something's being Australian, you know, sort of a little focused, but there's lots of markets how to identify them so we don't only look at the patterns.

  • We look at the shape off the Aussie corns, and if they have here on them or not, sense that all boys like the old because they know every giraffe was an individual.

  • They could do what no one else can on follow them over their entire lives.

  • On today, they found a very old friend.

  • Oh, I see the black spot that's way saw this giraffe many, many years before you guys were even born.

  • How cool is this?

  • This old bull giraffe was first seen at the very beginning of their studies.

  • Back then, he was already an adult, which means that he's over 20 years old on Dhe.

  • As of this moment, the world's oldest recorded while giraffe.

  • We don't know any giraffe.

  • It is his old disease in the world.

  • You know, there's just hasn't been the studies available to died until Julian on the T.

  • C s work, many of the really basic facts about giraffes were missing.

  • How long can they live?

  • How many other and even how far do they roam?

  • We're seeing giraffe movin distances that we never thought some of them in in the maybe are going more than 11,000 square kilometers.

  • It's absolutely amazing.

  • June has also discovered many of the secrets of their survival that they get enough water just from browsing the trees to defend themselves, have developed giant spikes, poisonous leaves and have recruited ants to fight the drop off.

  • In response, the giraffe skin has become tough.

  • They also have a John Black Sun proof tongue, and Julian has recorded that they can sniff out the poisonous leaves and pluck the moisture ones.

  • Most importantly, he has discovered that giraffes are vital pollinators and seed spreaders.

  • Without the giraffes landscape gardening Africa would change for the worst.

  • Each year brings new discoveries securely in technology, is now helping him see the giraffe as he's never seen it before.

  • Wow, It's so dark.

  • He can't even see his own hand in front of his face.

  • But his camera comm peel back the night his like Christmas all at once.

  • It's absolutely brilliant.

  • Julian can now see that giraffe are surprising, the active at night.

  • Then he sees something he's never seen before, just on the limit of what the camera can distinguish.

  • There's one sitting down right in front here.

  • I didn't even see that.

  • I thought it was a tree.

  • Well, this guy's just put his neck.

  • He's just turned it around, and he's resting it on his bump in the middle of the desert, where lawns prowl.

  • The giraffe has called upon the ground on Gone to sleep.

  • In zoos.

  • They study it.

  • Basically, when there nick is down R E M.

  • Sleep.

  • So maybe these giraffe a dream.

  • I've never seen that in a while.

  • If they are dreaming, who knows what while giraffe dream about?

  • All this is new to Julian, so this female has just turned that one's just stuck its nick up straightaway.

  • It's sat down.

  • It went down straight away, stuck its nick back, started to sleep.

  • I think they're talking to each other.

  • There's gotta be some communication.

  • It's like they're taking turns to sleep that we don't know for certain.

  • If these massive animals can communicate or how they sleep in the wild shows how neglected they've bean.

  • So much is new.

  • Giraffe were thought to be mute until this year, when thes noises were recorded from giraffes in the zoo.

  • At night, animals, which communicate often rely on being in social groups for their survival.

  • For the giraffe, discoveries like these about how they live together give Julian vital information that may help him save.

  • Um, I don't know anyone who's observed giraffe at night, and this is the first time it's ever been done.

  • You know, I know a little bit of back to rock, but I've never seen this.

  • But Julian's most jaw dropping giraffe discovery is alarmingly the simplest.

  • He's found that in just 20 years, the numbers of all giraffe across Africa have dropped by almost 40%.

  • Don't know how else to explain it, but everyone thinks they're everywhere and they're lovely and they're beautiful.

  • Course.

  • They can't be dwindling.

  • The numbers can't be going.

  • Numbers of plummeting.

  • We have lost many animals before and I just think it would be a really sad world without drop.

  • To put this into perspective, it's well known that African elephants are in trouble, their numbers are falling rapidly and there are just almost half a 1,000,000 left.

  • But what no one realized is that there are far fewer giraffes.

  • There are just 90,000 giraffe have already become extinct in at least seven countries.

  • Easy targets for poachers.

  • They're killed for their meat and their habitats are being destroyed.

  • That's frightening, and I think if we lost them, I don't know where I would be at.

  • I really think I've lost me, and so many people around us have just not done the job that we set out to do.

  • Time is running out, and Julian knows we urgently need to take our understanding of giraffes to a new level.

  • He has a revolutionary theory.

  • There's not just one species of giraffe divided into slightly different subspecies, but there are instead many unique species.

  • If Julian knows how many species that are, he can see which are the most in trouble and take immediate action to save them, but only by analyzing the genes inside the giraffe.

  • Can Julian prove how different they are to do this?

  • He's been taking samples of their skin and testing their DNA.

  • The information inside tiny plugs of skin like this could give Julian the power to save whole species we didn't even know existed.

  • Julian has got the DNA from almost every wild giraffe population in Africa.

  • Before he can run a species analysis, he needs a final sample from a population called Nubian giraffes.

  • There are perhaps just 650 left in the wild.

  • This group live far from Namibia, in Ethiopia, right on the water on border with South Sudan.

  • Julian has never been here before.

  • Being away from the family all the time.

  • It's not easy.

  • They are my life.

  • But so is dropping draft conservation.

  • And it's tough work.

  • From the capital, Addis Ababa, it's two days.

  • Travel West 21 of Africa's most remote national parks, Gambella.

  • Years ago, frying cost Gambella spotters recorded a wealth of wildlife somehow flourishing on the edge of a war zone.

  • But since then, the situation has changed.

  • All Julian has seen so far is Fars and cows.

  • This place is bad when the population in Ethiopia is going up by two million a year.

  • There's refugees pouring across the border.

  • To get his sample, Julian must find the last surviving giraffes in the park.

  • I'm hoping to find hundreds of jurors.

  • Let's feel there's no hope of that.

  • Sadly, you know, if we can find 10 20 draft form and that would be a great start would be a sample count of sample number of what's out there.

  • But the signs aren't good.

  • When he sees his first wild animals on the backs of eight heavily armed poachers reconnect and connected it not Mmm, they're all sitting here with a K 47 on.

  • It looks like there's been a least six cop that have been poached, little bit heated discussion.

  • So let's hope they can move on.

  • Take his name's Onda.

  • We go from there with one gun against eight.

  • There's little Julien Scout can do but send them on their way.

  • If this is what happened to the cop, no wonder there's literally a handful of giraffe probably left in this place.

  • The last surviving giraffe are thought to have moved deeper into the park area, engulfed in conflict and even harder to control.

  • It's another two days before Julian reaches the international team he'll be working with.

  • They've assembled to find and satellite tag many different animals in the park.

  • Julian's brought with him four giraffe GPS collars.

  • These will allow him to follow the giraffe, tracking their movements from space way.

  • Want to be out of monitor them, get some DNA Is we really have no clue what giraffe?

  • Almost nothing about this vast park is known with no roads or fences.

  • It only exists on paper.

  • To even find the giraffe is going to be a huge challenge.

  • The only solution is to use a helicopter.

  • Now they have a rare opportunity to shed light on the animals that live in this remote land and begin to try to protect them.

  • With Julian is vet Andre.

  • Ace, this is, uh this is a once in a lifetime job.

  • Really?

  • We know very little about these animals.

  • It's quite exciting.

  • Valuable data that'll come out.

  • They all know the stakes are high.

  • Okay, we've got it in front of us.

  • Team set to work.

  • Satellite coloring.

  • A range of animals generally don't give you much warning before they wake up.

  • She's starting to come out of the anesthetic.

  • Guys, get back to the helicopter.

  • The days tick by and in a ll their flights.

  • They have seen no giraffe.

  • Now Julian has just two more days to go home.

  • Not even having found a single giraffe would be devastating.

  • Team focuses on wooded areas because you're often spend 3/4 of their time browsing.

  • Then, in a patch of trees right on the Sudanese border, Julian sees what he's come for.

  • A herd of 30 giraffe Andre takes the way.

  • You have to give them the massively high doses to get them down.

  • So it's critical for me to get to the giraffe as soon as possible.

  • After it's gone down to administer an anti dot on get its respiration back to normal.

  • The giraffe is internal, totally awake.

  • Just the team holds it down.

  • They keep her calm with a blanket over her eyes.

  • Time is critical for Julian to take his theater in a sample from the least intrusive place foreign.

  • If I take a people sit here, just hold her a bit.

  • Okay?

  • That's just it's going next.

  • The team gently secure the GPS collar.

  • Now they'll be able to track where this giraffe Rome's and see if she crosses the border into South Sudan.

  • Time to let her go public.

  • Get off, Get off!

  • Get off!

  • You got me in missions with the one that please as I've beaten with a £10 melatonin ocean.

  • Fantastic.

  • Soon now, Julian.

  • Or know if his theory is correct?

  • We've always known giraffes look different in different places across the continent.

  • But are they as different as Julian thinks This'd is really exciting stuff.

  • This is the first d n.