Giraffe population drops below 100,000 worldwide as concerns mount for their conservation.
Biologists around the world were not overly concerned about giraffe populations, but suddenly, it seems that the world’s tallest land animal is about to be moved from the “least concern” to the “vulnerable” category, according to csmonitor.com.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which maintains a list of endangered species, announced the reclassification this week at a meeting in Mexico, noting the giraffe numbers had plummeted from over 151,000 back in 1985 to less than 100,000 last year. The group suspects the loss of the animals’ habitat as the primary reason for the decline.
Also, coupled with the dwindling living space, giraffes are targets for poaching in certain areas of Africa. A single giraffe can provide as much as 600 pounds of meat, as well as the animal’s valuable skin.
In a statement released to the press, the co-chair of the IUCN giraffe specialist group, Julian Fennessy, remarked that many people are unaware of the possibility of losing these iconic animals because the animals are often seen in media footage and seem common in most zoos.
Dr. Fennessy called for taking steps to prevent the demise of the giraffes right away. “As one of the world’s most iconic animals, it is timely that we stick our neck out for the giraffe before it is too late,” Dr. Fennessy commented.
Conservationists say there is already action being taken to preserve the animal’s numbers, and point to South Africa as a good example. And Chris Ransom of the Zoological Society of London says those efforts could serve as model for programs elsewhere on the continent.
“I think giraffes can survive,” Ransom told the BBC, “with the right conservation efforts, and we can ensure that the animals do live in the wild. There are a lot of cases of success in conservation. The giraffes could be one.”
But the IUCN doesn’t plan to just hope those efforts are successful. The agency list some 13,000 species as endangered or critically endangered, and calls for action to preserve the familiar African icons, urging members to monitor the protected area for giraffes and provide better security for the animals.