As time goes on, more and more beautiful animals around the world appear to be disappearing, and now you can add giraffes to that list. These long-necked creatures are on the decline and are now being recognized as vulnerable.
Image Credit: IUCN/Alicia Wirz
According to a report this month from the International Union for the Conversation of Nature (IUCN), giraffe populations are down as much as 40% over the past three decades. These declines can be attributed to various factors, including habitat loss and illegal hunting, among other things.
Specifically, the report notes the species’ numbers may have dropped anywhere from 151,702-163,452 in 1985 to just 97,562 in 2015.
“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,” said Julian Fennessy, co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group.
“With a decline of almost 40% 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.”
Habitat loss and illegal hunting are some of the primary reasons behind the losses of many of the world’s great animals, including elephants and several large cats, so this hardly comes as much of a surprise.
There is a total of nine different giraffe species in the world, and while five of them are on the decline, one is fortunately stable while the other three are actually on the rise. Nevertheless, that’s still a decline for more than half of the species of giraffe in total, which looks pretty grim.
It’s not too late to do something about it, as being coined “vulnerable” doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world for giraffes. If we can help put an end to the unnecessary killing of the creatures, it could help preserve their numbers, or better, help them rebound.