Two subspecies of giraffes are said to be close to extinction. Their population is rapidly declining due to destruction of habitat and poaching.
Several animals that most adults today have seen or heard about (in captivity, or otherwise) are now joining the list of endangered animals. There are several species of land and marine animals that are close to extinction. Wildlife conservation organizations across the world have been working tirelessly to try and save these species but illegal poaching and destruction of their natural habitat is the main reason behind the rapid decline in the population of animals like elephants, tigers, orangutans to name a few. Recently, two subspecies of giraffes joined the list of critically endangered animals in the world. The Kordofan and Nubian species fall under this list with populations dwindling quickest in wild areas of Eritrea, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Malawi, Mauritania, and Senegal. This is one of the first times in history that the giraffes have entered the critically endangered list.
The numbers of the long-necked animals have gone down by around 40% in just the last three decades. The main cause of this decline is the result of human activities that have led to the mass destruction of their habitats. In a new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the giraffe has been moved from the list of "Least Concern" to "Vulnerable" in its Red List of Threatened Species. There totally nine subspecies of giraffes in Africa. The other seven subspecies have been growing at a slow but steady rate. However, they too are being poached illegally.
Other reasons for the decline in the number of tallest animals in the world are agriculture, mining, and construction across all of Africa. As reported by the Irish Post, Dr. Julian Fennessy, co-chair of the IUCN Special Survival Commission, said: "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."
He continued, "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." Findings by the Rothschild’s Giraffe Project in 2010 revealed that "freshly severed heads and giraffe bones" can net poachers up to $140 each. Over the years, the species have become harder to find as their numbers have decreased so much but the poaching has not been reduced at all. In fact, the price has gone up, resulting in increased levels of poaching.
The IUCN's worrying report comes after a resolution adopted at the organization's World Conservation Congress in September 2018 called for action to reverse the decline of the giraffe. Dr. Fennessy also mentioned that most people are unaware of the fact that giraffes have been going through a process of silent extinction. It will take massive efforts by not just the conservationists but also by the government and if possible, even the people to save the species and help bring the numbers back to what they used to be. It is going to take years of work but it needs to be put in.
So sad all the senseless poaching, and they have hard enough time with natural predators😥— 🐍 Dimebag 🐍 (@richiepython) January 15, 2019
The rate at which things are going, the next generation might not get too see several of the species that exist today, not even in zoos. They will only hear about them or read about them as we did for the dinosaurs, or like more than half of today's generation did about the dodo. There are plenty of anti-poaching laws across the world but that does not seem to be doing enough. Stopping habitat encroachment is definitely a very difficult prospect as it requires us to stop developing good land, stop mining, and other activities that help boost the economy but it is something that needs to be considered seriously. The economy might grow slower and we might have to find alternative ways to help boost the economy but we will be saving species of animals from going extinct. People need to start thinking about the greater good and stop being so selfish for their own species. Yes, materials do make man king but we're going to be the kings of nothing but an empty world, filled with concrete if things go on like this.
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.” In cases like these, education can play a big role in stopping poaching.
Dr. Fennessy adds, “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.” Just because we get to see most of these animals in the zoos does not mean that their numbers are not declining. Sometimes, it feels as though they are safer when kept in the zoo than when they are let into the wild, at least that way they won't decrease in number. National parks and wildlife conservation organizations are doing their bit, it is high time that we start doing ours and help educate people to end habitat encroachment and poaching.
Save animals. Save the world.