PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER STANLEY, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
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.
According to The Irish Post:
“Two specific subspecies – the Kordofan and Nubian – were reclassified as ‘Critically Endangered’, with populations dwindling quickest 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:
“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. While giraffe populations in southern Africa are doing just fine, the world’s tallest animal is under severe pressure in some of its core ranges across East, Central and West Africa. It may come as a shock that three of the currently recognized nine subspecies are now considered ‘Critically Endangered’ or ‘Endangered’, but we have been sounding the alarm for a few years now.”
According to the Smithsonian magazine:
“The giraffes face two main threats, encroachment from cities and towns into their habitat and poaching. Poaching has become increasingly problematic. Some food insecure villagers kill the animals for their meat, but Jani Actman at National Geographic reports many giraffes are slaughtered just for their tails, which are considered a status symbol and have been used as a dowry when asking a bride’s father for his daughter’s hand in marriage in some cultures.”
“The biggest problem for giraffes, though, maybe the lack of attention over the years. “I am absolutely amazed that no one has a clue. This silent extinction. Some populations less than 400. That is 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.