WASHINGTON, June 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has announced today, on World Giraffe Day, a new partnership with Toys"R"Us®, the world's leading dedicated toy and baby products retailer, to support conservation education for students living near critical giraffe habitats in East Africa. Fresh off its campaign and conservation efforts tied to "April the Giraffe," whose pregnancy journey and birth of Tajiri received more than 232 million live views online1, Toys"R"Us and the African conservation organization will provide students at AWF-supported schools in Tanzania and Uganda with opportunities to learn about their natural environment and local wildlife, including specific subspecies of giraffe. The partnership will support talks and activities led by wildlife rangers, such as animal footprint tracking, as well as hands-on lessons on identifying local plant and wildlife species. Students will also embark on field trips into national parks.
The educational efforts will take place under AWF's Classroom Africa program, which provides rural communities living in or near critical wildlife habitats with access to a quality primary school education.
"For obvious reasons, our mascot Geoffrey is an ardent supporter of giraffe conservation efforts," said Amy von Walter, Executive Vice President, Global Communications and Customer Care, Toys"R"Us, Inc. "We were part of April's birth earlier this year and are so blessed to be able to highlight the plight of this beloved species and ensure they continue to roam our planet for future generations."
"Giraffes today are in a precarious position," says Craig Sholley, senior vice president at African Wildlife Foundation. "The total giraffe population has declined by as much as 40 percent in the past three decades, dropping from more than 185,000 in 1985 to fewer than 100,000 by 2015. We are thrilled that a household name like Toys"R"Us not only recognizes the severity of the situation but also understands that the key to the species' survival is with today's youth, who will be tomorrow's giraffe conservationists."
Habitat loss and fragmentation — driven by human settlement and other human-driven activities — are the leading cause of the giraffe's population decline. As such, enhancing Classroom Africa's conservation education with giraffe-specific programming will be critical in helping to protect giraffes in the wild. Such enrichment experiences engender a sense of pride in students toward their natural heritage and encourage them to act as stewards of wildlife and its habitat.
The schools supported by AWF's Classroom Africa program in Tanzania and Uganda sit adjacent to critical habitat for giraffe subspecies: Manyara Ranch Primary School in Tanzania is located near a wildlife corridor that connects Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks — a corridor that has been found to be an important breeding area for the Masai giraffe. In Uganda, AWF will soon begin construction on two primary schools situated near Kidepo Valley National Park. This park is home to the Rothschild's giraffe, of which only about 1,600 individuals remain in the world.
AWF's Classroom Africa program not only provides conservation education for students but also constructs new school buildings, supports ongoing professional development for teachers and, where possible, provides access to technology. These efforts ensure the next generation of African conservationists — those youth who grow up near Africa's remaining wildlife — have quality educational opportunities and enhanced appreciation for their natural heritage.
For media inquiries, contact:
Denis Galava, African Wildlife Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya
Telephone: Mobile:+254 720 947612| Office: +254 711 063000
Althea Wilson, African Wildlife Foundation, Washington, DC
Telephone: 202 939 3333
Candace Disler, Toys"R"Us, Inc.
About African Wildlife Foundation
The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa's unique conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent's wildlife and wild lands. To learn more, please visit www.awf.org.
About Toys"R"Us, Inc.
Toys"R"Us, Inc. is the world's leading dedicated toy and baby products retailer, offering a differentiated shopping experience through its family of brands. Merchandise is sold in 879 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Guam, and in 815 international stores and over 255 licensed stores in 37 countries and jurisdictions. With its strong portfolio of e-commerce sites including Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com, the company provides shoppers with a broad online selection of distinctive toy and baby products. Toys"R"Us, Inc. is headquartered in Wayne, NJ, and has nearly 65,000 employees worldwide. The company is committed to serving its communities as a caring and reputable neighbor through programs dedicated to keeping kids safe and helping them in times of need. Over the past three decades, the Company has given more than $100 million in product donations to children's charities. Since 1992, the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund, a public charity affiliated with Toys"R"Us, Inc., has also donated more than $130 million in grants. For more information, visit Toysrusinc.com or follow @ToysRUsNews on Twitter.
1 Adweek, "April the Giraffe Captivated YouTube to the Tune of 232 Million-Plus Live Views," http://www.adweek.com/digital/april-the-giraffe-youtube.
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SOURCE African Wildlife Foundation