By Caitlin Hamilton, Contributing Editor & Science Journalist
The giraffe population is made from nine different subspecies, and has declined from a population of 140,000 individuals in the 1990s, to a little over 80,000 today. In the last seven years alone, the species has been lost entirely from seven African countries.
The decline has been unprecedented, and Dr Julian Fennessy of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, stated; “The giraffe is an African icon and the drop in numbers surprises the most seasoned conservationists.”
As we continue with programs of mass deforestation, many species are losing their precious natural habitats, and are suffering as a result. Standing up to 18 feet in height, giraffes are vulnerable to losing the protection that dense forest habitats offer, and increasingly the animals are being killed by illegal hunting and poaching.
Awareness for these gentle giants needs to be pushed to the forefront of international conservation efforts. Other iconic African mammals such as elephants and lions have long received acknowledgement that their species are in decline, and efforts are being made to salvage them.
The removal of giraffes from the African landscape would not only be a visual tragedy, but its repercussions upon the intricate natural world would be devastating. As Fennessy stressed; “It is time for the international community to stick their necks out to save giraffe before it is too late.”
Giraffes’ conservation status is currently listed as ‘least threatened,’ but the newly updated IUCN Red List will be released this month.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kelly Calagna, Managing Editor, Coco Eco