For Immediate Release:
November 18, 2015
Ashley Davison, email@example.com
Filmmaker and giraffe biologists discover unique giraffe perspective
by placing live-action camera on-top giraffe’s head
First time scientists capture a giraffe’s point-of-view, learn habits that
could be leading to giraffe decline in Africa
Giraffe populations in Africa have declined 50 percent since 1999
NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas- Iniosante, a Texas-based motion picture company filming giraffes around the world, partnered with biologists to fit a live-action camera on a giraffe’s head to help scientists identify factors leading to the decline of wild populations.
“This is the first time we’ve ever been able to see from a giraffe’s perspective. It’s monumental. We can learn more about what factors are causing their decline in Africa,” said Francois Deacon, whose team supported Iniosante’s concept to ‘see through a giraffe’s eyes.’
The device holding the camera on the giraffe’s ossicone, (horn-like protuberances on their heads), took three months to develop. Deacon worked alongside mechanical engineers to develop a release system to automatically disengage the device. “We needed a way for the camera to detach from the giraffe’s ossicone to ensure animal safety and protect their natural environment,” said Deacon.
Deacon has designed GPS collars and ear tags to track giraffe in the wild. He and a team of researchers collared the first wild giraffe, and have since tracked more than 30. He is a professor at the University of the Free State in his native South Africa.
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Iniosante CEO and Director Ashley Davison, along with his film crew, have traveled the globe for two years collecting footage of giraffes, and interviewing scientists for his documentary “Last of the Longnecks.” The nearly finished film has spurred conversation among giraffe caretakers on what can be done to protect the species.
“It started with the birth of the twin giraffes at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in New Braunfels in 2013,” said Davison. “It was troubling to learn what has happened to giraffes, so we began connecting with scientists to learn how we could tell the giraffe’s story—and inspire people to demand change so we don’t lose these amazing creatures.”
Zoo keepers at Oakland Zoo were also keen on capturing this groundbreaking view. According to Amy Phelps, Lead Giraffe Keeper at Oakland Zoo and Research Associate for the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, images taken from the giraffe’s point-of-view could provide unique views enabling zookeepers to better understand their navigation habits.
“We trained our 19-year-old Reticulated giraffe Benghazi to accept the camera because we knew we would learn so much from him,” said Phelps. “He gained positive reinforcement from his trusted zoo keepers for an activity that stimulated him physically and mentally, while also empowering him to make a choice and control his environment,” said Phelps. Oakland Zoo is a sponsor of Iniosante’s documentary.
“Sometimes it can be hard to imagine what these gentle giants are seeing 19 feet in the air,” said Phelps. “By sharing Benghazi’s amazing POV, we hope to bring increased attention to the critical situation they face in the wild.”
Fifty percent of the African giraffe population has diminished since 1999. “It’s a short timeframe for that type of decline to occur,” says Deacon. “We are trying to determine ’why’. With the ability to see from a giraffe’s perspective, I feel we can learn more, which translates to better decision-making on conservation and management practices. If we don’t learn more about what’s causing their decline, we may lose this magnificent creature from our planet.”