Giraffes Facing ‘Silent Extinction’ As Population Declines

Posted: Dec 7 2016, 11:18pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 7 2016, 11:38pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Giraffes Facing ‘Silent Extinction’ as Population Declines
Credit: BOSTJAN PULKO
 

Giraffe numbers have dropped 40 percent since the 1980s, IUCN reports

One of the most iconic and tallest animals in the world is now at high risk of extinction.

According to the latest report by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), giraffe number has plummeted by 40% in just four decades. As a result, their threatened species status has also been upgraded. Still, the animal is not getting the attention it needs and deserves. 

In 1985, there were an estimated 151,000 to 163,000 giraffes but their number was dropped to around 97,000 in 2015. The decline in giraffe population, as with so many other species, is driven by habitat loss and illegal hunting while the most disturbing situation in central and eastern Africa. The problem has been called a “silent extinction” due to a lack of public awareness and little involvement from governments and other protective agencies.

“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.” Julian Fennessy, an IUCN giraffe specialist said in a statement.

Though giraffes have been largely overlooked in terms of research and conservation in the past but in recent years, considerable progress has been made in compiling data about their population size and distribution. Researches have found that giraffe number is even fewer than African elephant today which is another endangered species and conservation groups are more focused on protecting it. However, IUCN is hoping that giraffe population can be restored with some intervention. 

“While there have been great concern about elephants and rhinos, giraffes have gone under the radar but, unfortunately, their numbers have been plummeting, and this is something that we were a little shocked about, that they have declined by so much in so little time.” Fennessy told BBC.

Giraffes once roamed throughout sub-Saharan Africa but now there population has become more scattered and dwindling. Despite the decline in population, giraffes never received much attention and graded as of “least concern” species until recently.

The giraffe is the only mammal whose status changed on the list this year. The upgraded IUCN Red List now contains more than 28,000 species and 24,000 of them are at risk of extinction. 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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