Unfortunately, the human activity in the natural habitats of animals usually does more harm than good. The newest consequence of these actions led to the addition of two subspecies of giraffes to a list of endangered animals, meaning they are under threat of extinction.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported that their number has dropped by 40% over the last three decades, which made them enter the “vulnerable” category of the Red List of Threatened Species.
Two specific subspecies, the Kordofan and Nubian, were reclassified as ‘Critically Endangered’, since their populations were threatened of extinction at the fastest rate in wild areas of Eritrea, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Malawi, Mauritania, and Senegal.
All nine giraffe species struggle to increase their numbers and have suffered a lot due to mining, poaching, agriculture, and construction across Africa.
Dr. Julian Fennessy, a co-chair of the IUCN Special Survival Commission, says that people are not aware that giraffes are undergoing a silent extinction while they see them on safari and in zoos.
While giraffe populations in southern Africa are doing just fine, they are under severe pressure in some of its core ranges across East, Central and West Africa. Namely, three of the recognized nine subspecies are currently considered ‘Critically Endangered’ or ‘Endangered’.
The giraffes face two main threats, poaching and encroachment from cities and towns into their habitat. Some food insecure villagers kill giraffes for their meat, but most of them are slaughtered just for their tails, which, in some cultures, are considered a status symbol and are used as a dowry when asking a bride’s father for his daughter’s hand.
Dr.Fennessy explains that yet, the biggest problem is the lack of attention over the years. Some populations are now even under 400 in number, which is even more endangered than any gorilla, or almost any large mammal in the world.
The African elephant and rhino are not the only targets of poachers, as they are also attracted by giraffes, whose heads and bones can be sold for up to $140 each. Yet, we need to raise the awareness of this serious issue before it is too late, for our children might only be able to see giraffes in the zoos soon.