Giraffe skin disease (GSD) is a disorder of undetermined etiology that causes lesions on the forelimbs of Masai giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi) in Tanzania, East Africa. We examined soil correlates of prevalence of GSD from 951 giraffe in 14 sites in Tanzania, and estimated mortality using 3 yr of longitudinal mark–recapture data from 382 giraffe with and without GSD lesions, in Tarangire National Park (TNP). Spatial variation in GSD prevalence was best explained by soil fertility, measured as cation exchange capacity. We found no mortality effect of GSD on adult giraffe in TNP. Based on our findings, GSD is unlikely to warrant immediate veterinary intervention, but continued monitoring is recommended to ensure early detection if GSD-afflicted animals begin to show signs of increased mortality or other adverse effects.
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Vol. 52 • No. 4