Are giraffes going extinct? Stepping up conservation efforts, Africa is at the forefront; is it enough?

By: |
August 26, 2020 12:17 PM

Undoubtedly, the giraffe remains one of the most underrated yet beautiful beasts, tall, stately and poised despite its awkward height, that is striking like eye-popping jungle graffiti.

Giraffe conservation efforts in AfricaNotably, Kenya has been at the forefront of giraffe conservation efforts.

‘G for Giraffe’ is what we have learned from many early school picture books. Soon it looks as though children may have to learn of giraffes as being listed in Africa’s classification of ‘endangered’ species. Reports indicate that the giraffe numbers have been fast dipping to under 100,000 giraffes in 2015. This is based on the figures that African media has been quoting from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Notably, Kenya has been at the forefront of giraffe conservation efforts, given that it is the only country from the continent that hosts three species of giraffes.

Among Africa’s wild animals, the giraffe holds no glory the way the African elephant or African lion does. Yet nothing can truly prepare us for the sheer beauty of this silent, stately creature called the giraffe. So little is known about giraffes, such as the fascinating fact that they tend to hum at night!

Why are giraffe numbers falling in Africa?

When you study the giraffe numbers across Africa, it becomes clear that the numbers fell to about 40 percent between 1985 and 2015, to just under 100,000 animals, according to IUCN. The IUCN cites data that shows giraffe numbers in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia falling to 60 per cent in the decades up to 2018.

An earlier report in the National Geographic had also indicated there are fewer giraffes as compared to wild elephants in Africa. Not just that, there is very little known about the four species of giraffes that exist in Africa, though the masai giraffes have been known to be rare across the continent. However, the report underlies that giraffe populations have drastically declined by about 40% spanning the last three decades.

A noteworthy initiative has been taken forward through a collaboration between San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) with Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), which has teamed up with Kenya Wildlife society, among others.

The official website of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation rolls out regular initiatives and news updates related to giraffe conservation efforts.

Facts such as how giraffes tend to prefer their own ‘zones’ to hang out and how one giraffe walked close to the Nigerian border but returned the following day, thereby rounding off a 160 km road trip, makes for interesting reading.

Unlike other wild animals that are given ‘endangered’ status such as rhinos, Africa’s stately giraffe has always been undervalued. Undoubtedly, the giraffe remains one of the most underrated yet beautiful beasts, tall, stately and poised despite its awkward height, that is striking like eye-popping jungle graffiti.

With more awareness campaigns and conservation efforts being scaled up to achieve the desired outcomes, the future of giraffes may be finally in the spotlight.

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