In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) discovered that giraffes have undergone a 40 percent population decrease in the last 30 years. As of now, there are less than 100,000 individual giraffes in Africa due to poaching, loss of habitat and habitual degradation caused by humans. At least three giraffe species are endangered at the moment, two being critically endangered. The common giraffe species found in zoos known as the Reticulated giraffe is one of the three species at risk of extinction.
There are nine different kinds of giraffe, including the Reticulated giraffe, the Nubian giraffe, and the Kordofan giraffe - all three of which have been added to IUCN Red List of endangered species. The four distinct species that the subspecies fall under are Giraffa giraffa (Southern giraffe), Giraffa camelopardalis (Northern giraffe), Giraffa reticulata (Reticulated giraffe) and Giraffa tippelskirchi (Masai giraffe). The Giraffa camelopardalis species show less than 5,200 and 15,785 wild giraffes left.
“Whilst giraffe 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 … It may come as a shock that three of the currently recognised nine subspecies are now considered ‘Critically Endangered’ or ‘Endangered,’ but we have been sounding the alarm for a few years now,” said Dr. Julian Fennessy, Director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, on GCF News.
Giraffes have been disappearing across Africa for a while now. They no longer exist in countries Guinea, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Nigeria and others, according to the Smithsonian Institution’s website. By the late 1990s, there were only 49 existing West African giraffes in the entirety of West Africa. However, after the Niger government put full protection over the species, there are now about 550 (and counting).
Habitat loss and poaching have been huge factors in the beloved animal’s endangerment. For this reason, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation is trying their hardest to protect and preserve the beautiful, significant creature. Through the operation’s efforts and scrupulous data-collecting, they are ensuring the long-term success and survival of the giraffe species.