ASHLAND - An Oregon writer's experiences with free-roaming giraffes in West Africa will be the November cover story for "Smithsonian" magazine.

Jennifer Margulis first observed the giraffes 15 years ago when she was working for a nonprofit development agency in the African country of Niger.

Giraffes in Niger are among the last giraffes in Africa to live near villagers in their natural habitat. Other giraffes live on protected nature reserves.

Margulis says giraffes are on the verge of extinction. But her "Smithsonian" article has a hopeful outlook for their survival, with the Niger herd healthy and its numbers increasing.

Margulis lives in Ashland with her husband and three children. The whole family trekked together through Africa while Margulis was a Fulbright Scholar from 2006 to 2007.

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