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The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (the organization that puts out the world’s official Endangered Species List) has changed the status of the giraffe from a “species of least concern” to “vulnerable” on its Red List of Endangered Species. This marks the first time in history that the giraffe is on the list, and if steps are not taken to ensure this beautiful animal’s survival, the giraffe’s position on the list could move to “endangered” and then “critically endangered”…or even extinct!
According to a report on this sad news on the Smithsonian website, the giraffe population in the wild has declined from 157,000 in 1985 to 97,500 now…a huge 40% drop that has been overshadowed by even more dire numbers for animals like the rhinoceros and elephant. Officials at the IUCN are calling this situation a “silent extinction”—going dangerously unnoticed because giraffes seem so common to the general public.
What are the main threats facing the giraffe in Africa? There are two: the movement of human populations from nearby cities and towns into their habitats, and poaching. Sadly, giraffes are being poached for one body part—their tails—which are viewed as a status symbol in many local cultures.
Different subspecies of giraffes face different threat levels, but experts warn that all giraffes are in danger of disappearing if current trends of habitat loss and poaching continue. Conservationists say that there needs to be increased global awareness of the silent extinction of giraffes, as many people have no idea there is even a problem. But giraffes have already gone extinct in several African countries, and some populations are down to just a few hundred individuals.
Interested in learning more? Check out the IUCN’s website HERE.
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