Giraffes Facing Silent Extinction

Biologists blame habitat loss

Over the past 30 years, the giraffe population has shrunk by nearly 40% and has now been put on the official watch list of threatened and endangered species around the world.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the giraffe population was between 1,51,000 and 1,63,000. In 2015, the number dropped to just 97,562.

The co-chairs of the specialty group of biologists who put the giraffe on the IUCN Red List, Julian Fennessy and Noelle Kumpel, said that giraffes were facing a ‘silent extinction’, reported The Hindu. Everyone seems to worry about elephants going extinct, but there are four times as many pachyderms (large mammals having thick skin, especially an elephant, rhinoceros, or hippopotamus) as there are giraffes.

The IUCN on its Red List of threatened species raised the threat level for 35 species and lowered it for seven, at a biodiversity meeting in Mexico. This list is taken to be the official list compiling animals and plants currently in danger of extinction. As a matter of fact, the only animal whose status changed on the list is the giraffe.

Biologists until lately had not been doing a good job in assessing the numbers of giraffes and where they could be found. Moreover, they have been clubbed under one broad category of species rather than into nine different subspecies.

Scientists have blamed loss of habitat as the main reason behind the plight of the giraffes. Shrinking space coupled with poaching and illness has proved to be the recipe of disaster for these mammals. Moreover, people have been encroaching upon areas where giraffes live. This is especially true in central and eastern Africa. Wild giraffes have disappeared from countries such as Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal said Kumpel.

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