The number of giraffes in the world is sadly declining, and as a result two different species have been added to the ‘critically endangered’ list of animals.
The Kordofan giraffe and the Nubian giraffe, which are found across East, Central and West Africa, are now classified as ‘critically endangered’, while the Reticulated giraffe, which is native to the Horn of Africa, is listed as ‘endangered’. Other species of giraffe have also been graded as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘near threatened’.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has revealed that these giraffes are ‘in serious trouble’.
These species of giraffe were listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the Red List in 2016, but have now been ‘uplisted’ on the 2018 update.
There are currently nine subspecies of giraffe, seven of which have been assessed by the IUCN. Five of the subspecies were assessed for the first time ever, so it was a shock for researchers that three of them are now endangered.
The only species of giraffe to listed as ‘least concern’ is the Angolan giraffe, which is found mainly in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The South African giraffe also appears to be doing well, while the numbers of Masai giraffe have ‘plummeted’ and ‘will most likely be placed within one of the threatened categories of the IUCN Red List’ according to an IUCN report.
Dr Julian Fennessy, co-chair of the IUCN Special Survival Commission, and the Giraffe & Okapi Specialist Group, and Director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, said:
Whilst giraffe 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.
While giraffe populations in southern Africa are doing just fine, the world’s tallest animal is under severe pressure in some of its core ranges across East, Central and West Africa.
It may come as a shock that three of the currently recognised nine subspecies are now considered ‘Critically Endangered’ or ‘Endangered’, but we have been sounding the alarm for a few years now.
Some species of giraffe, however, seem to be thriving, as the West African and Rothschild’s giraffe, which were previously considered ‘endangered’, have improved their conservation status. This is thanks to the African governments and conservation organisations working together, with guidance from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
Arthur Muneza, East-Africa Coordinator of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, said:
This is a conservation success story and highlights the value of making proactive giraffe conservation and management efforts in critical populations across the continent.
Working collaboratively with governments and other partners, we feel that our proactive measures are saving giraffe in some areas before it is too late.
It is now timely to increase our efforts, especially for those listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ and ‘Endangered’.
Giraffes are currently under threat from illegal hunting, as well as loss of habitat due to human activities like agriculture and mining.
The critically endangered Kordofan and Nubian giraffe are now considered some of the most threatened large mammals in the world.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.