THE WORLD’S TALLEST land mammal might be facing extinction. In December of last year, the Kordofan and Nubian giraffe subspecies were added to the “critically endangered” list for the first time, according to a report by the International Union for Conservarion of Nature (IUCN).
Now, another of the nine giraffe subspecies in existence are being classified as “endangered.”
Masai giraffes, one of the largest remaining subspecies of the animal, are in serious trouble. Their numbers have dropped from 71,000 to 35,000 in the last 30 years.
The other giraffes that are now classified as endangered include:
The Reticulated giraffe
West African giraffe
Around two to 10 percent of the giraffe population in Kenya and Tanzania is poached from Serengeti National Park each year, due to the lucrative market for giraffe body parts. According to the IUCN Red List, Masai giraffes are poached for their hides, bones, and tail hairs. Some people even believe that giraffe bone marrow and brains can be used to cure HIV/AIDS.
While researchers believe that some local populations may not survive, there is optimism that that the long term future of these tall creatures can be secured.
The success in keeping giraffe numbers high in Southern Africa has much to do with the management of game parks for tourists say experts, who believe that the extra attention that the IUCN listing will now attract will benefit the species.
“South Africa is a good example of how you can manage wildlife, there is a lot of moving of animals between different conservation areas, it is a very different scenario than in most of the rest of Africa.” said Chris Ransom from the Zoological Society of London.
“I think giraffes can survive, 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.”
The latest edition of the IUCN Red List now contains over 85,000 species in total with more than 24,000 threatened with extinction. Over 700 newly recognised bird species have been added, with 11% of them on the edge of survival.