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Experts warn giraffes face 'silent extinction' as population substantially drops

The species population has dropped around 40% in the past 30 years.

Image: Shutterstock/Craig Fraser

THE GIRAFFE IS threatened with extinction after a dramatic fall in the numbers of the world’s tallest land mammal in the last 30 years.

While there were over 150,000 giraffes across parts of Africa in 1985, there are now only just over 97,000 left in the world, a fall of around 40%.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), human activity is having a negative impact on many populations of giraffe through the likes of illegal hunting, habitat loss, increased agriculture and mining.

The IUCN’s Red List of threatened species has now moved the species from “least concern” to “vulnerable” to extinction.

Julian Fennessy, co-chair of the IUCN’s giraffe specialist group, said: “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.

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.

To try and reverse the tide, IUCN recently outlined a plan to try and save the giraffe from extinction.

Chief among these aims is to lobby the international community to protect the wildlife habitats of giraffes, as well as improving law enforcement to prevent hunting and other illegal activities.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) co-hosts the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Its co-chair, Dr Noëlle Kümpel added: “Most people have no idea that both species of giraffid, the giraffe and its lesser-known Congolese rainforest cousin the okapi, are suffering dramatic declines and are now both threatened with extinction.

[We are] calling for greater awareness and efforts to secure the future of these hugely charismatic, iconic and gentle species in the wild, including safeguarding key protected areas.

The latest edition of the IUCN Red List details 85,000 species in total, with 24,000 at risk of extinction. A total of 742 new bird species have been discovered, but 11% of them are already at risk.

Read: “Giraffes are very dangerous”: US woman defends big game hunting (and prompts fresh outrage)

Read: People are outraged this hunter posted a picture with a dead giraffe

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Sean Murray

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