An alarming new report has found that giraffes are facing an extremely grave threat to their very existence.
The giraffe is in extremely big trouble, and the majestic creature is now at a growing risk of being extinct after it was added to the official watch list of threatened and endangered species. Populations of giraffes have plunged by nearly 40 percent in the last three decades, prompting the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) “Red List” to recategorize the giraffe from “least concern” to “vulnerable.”
Giraffe populations have declined below 100,000 as of last year. They were at about 151,000 in 1985. Scientists believe that loss of habitat is the main threat to these animals. They’re such a common sight that people don’t realize how quickly they are dying off, IUCN said in a statement.
Poaching and disease are also significant threats for the giraffe. And the animal also faces the unique threat of human warfare in South Sudan. Some giraffe subspecies are probably totally wiped out already.
However, all is not lost. Conservation efforts are already underway in Africa to provide a model for restoring giraffes to their former glory.
“The iconic giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), one of the world’s most recognisable animals and the tallest land mammal, is now threatened with extinction,” the IUCN said in a statement. “The species, which is widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated subpopulations in west and central Africa, has moved from Least Concern to Vulnerable due to a dramatic 36-40% decline from approximately 151,702-163,452 individuals in 1985 to 97,562 in 2015.
“The growing human population is having a negative impact on many giraffe subpopulations. Illegal hunting, habitat loss and changes through expanding agriculture and mining, increasing human-wildlife conflict, and civil unrest are all pushing the species towards extinction. Of the nine subspecies of giraffe, three have increasing populations, whilst five have decreasing populations and one is stable.”