Guess who could be the latest addition to the list of endangered animals? It’s the giraffes. Things are getting out of hand, the receding number of giraffes in the wild could end up being endangered along with tigers, sea turtles, pandas, blue whale, orangutans and many others in the ever-growing list. The news about the majestic giraffes comes as an absolute shock!
In 2016, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature(IUCN) moved the status of giraffes from species of “least concern” to “vulnerable”. Although the giraffes are easily seen on safaris, zoos and plain lands, the population of the giraffes is rapidly declining in many parts of Africa. Many people are unaware of the fact that these stunning animals are in danger. The population of giraffes dropped from 157,000 in 1985 to around 97,000 in 2015. That’s a 40% decline.
According to IUCN “Of the nine subspecies of giraffe, three have increasing populations, whilst five have decreasing populations and one is stable.” After vulnerable, next, they could become endangered, then critically endangered and finally extinct.
Habitat loss, recreational hunting, poaching, are some of the key reasons why giraffes moved towards extinction.
Giraffes are poached by Congolese people for their tails. It’s considered as a status symbol in marriages. Giraffes are killed for their body parts also fetching great prices in international market. Giraffe marrow is also traded illegally, touted to cure AIDS.
Trophy hunting, the recreational killing of the animals for fun is one of the main reason for the recent decline in the population of giraffes. The US is the largest importer of animal trophies. The recent lifting of the ban on importing big game trophies from African countries by US president Donald Trump was not what environmentalists and conservationists were hoping for!
Deforestation, land mining, agriculture, civil wars in the African countries leaves no home for the tall animals. Their natural habitat is declining at a fast pace. In fact, habitat loss is a bigger problem than poaching.
We see them in zoos but that doesn’t imply that they are thriving in the wild. In reality, giraffes are slowly sliding in with the leagues of that of elephants and rhinos. Elephants are falling. Recently, the world lost its last male white rhino. The sparrows are already endangered now. What we don’t need now is the loss of the tallest animal on the planet which has a tongue so long it can lick its own ears.
Half a century later, they could be extinct. Giraffes do belong in pictures and books, but most importantly, they belong in the wild. It’s about time, we stick our necks out for them.
photo credits: bonpic.com and pamsfoundation.org/portfolio/giraffe-protection/