Giraffes At Risk Of Extinction As Population Plummets 40 Percent, Scientists Warn

In the latest animal news, the world’s tallest animal, giraffes, are now listed as vulnerable species on the brink of extinction after the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s report indicated that giraffes are dying at a rapid rate due to “habitat loss, civil unrest, and illegal hunting.”

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, global giraffe, who experts once listed as the “least concern,” population has decreased by 40 percent within the last 30 years and only about 97,600 remain.

Tall giraffes can be found in southern and eastern Africa with a smaller population found in West and Central Africa. However, most giraffes resides in national parks and reserves, where they should be protected but most are not.

As human life continues to expand, giraffes are becoming more vulnerable to extinction as the areas once used for wildlife has “turned into farmland or used for mining and development,” says David Banks, who is the regional Director for the Africa Region with the Nature Conservancy.

According to Liz Bennett, who is the vice president for species conservation for the Wildlife Conservation Society, “While global attention has been on threats to elephants and rhinos, giraffes have been off the radar, and we’ve been losing them in significant numbers.”

“People and governments need to start acting to save giraffes, fast.”

Julian Fennessy, who is the co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, added that “whilst giraffes are commonly seen on safari, in the media, and in zoos, people – including conservationists – are unaware that these majestic animals are undergoing a silent extinction.”

“With a decline of almost 40 percent in the last three decades alone, the world’s tallest animal is under severe pressure in some of its core ranges across East, Central and West Africa. As one of the world’s most iconic animals, it is timely that we stick our neck out for the giraffe before it is too late.”

The Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BCGI) said, “The addition of new species to the IUCN Red List, some of them already threatened with extinction, emphasizes the urgency to produce conservation assessments to better prioritize species in need of conservation action as soon as the species are discovered.”

“The first assessments of many crop wild relatives also highlight the need for conservation action, both in situ and ex-situ, to ensure our future food security.”

“It is certainly a concern that iconic species like the loquacious African grey parrot (Endangered) and the giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis (Vulnerable) are now listed as Threatened,” said Dr. Thomas Lacher, Jr. from Texas A&M University.

“In addition, four wild relatives of the common mango are now Endangered and an additional wild relative Extinct in the Wild. The loss of genetic diversity in the wild relatives of many of our domestic food crops only erodes future options for new crop resources under changing climates.”

Since receiving reports about the tallest animal in the world facing extinction, the international community held a meeting in Hawaii, creating a resolution that would prevent giraffes from being extinct, such as protecting the areas where they life.

It was advised that the “parks and wildlife refuges in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and South Sudan” would need better security to protect against illegal hunting.

If nothing is done to protect animal extinction, Derek Lee, who an ecologist, stated that the world may see a decline in giraffes sooner than anticipated.

There are now more than 24,307 species being classified as “critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.”

Banks added that “he wants to see these species continue” and hopes adding giraffes to the IUCN red list will be a wake-up call to the people around the world.

[Featured Image By StanislavBeloglazov/iStock]