Friday 20 September 2019

Giraffes on 'extinction critical list' for first time

Silent extinction: Giraffe numbers have been falling ‘for years now’
Silent extinction: Giraffe numbers have been falling ‘for years now’

Sarah Knapton

Giraffes are at risk of extinction with some subspecies now listed as 'critically endangered' for the first time.

The latest International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species has placed the Kordofan and Nubian giraffes just one stage from extinct in the wild, with fewer than 4,650 animals left.

The Reticulated, Thornicroft's, and West African giraffes and are also listed as endangered or vulnerable.

And although Masai giraffes are yet to be assessed, numbers have plummeted in recent years and conservationists expect they will soon be added to the red list.

Only the Angolan giraffe - which lives in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe - is out of danger, and listed as of least concern, although numbers of Rothschild's giraffe are improving after intensive conservation work, and are now listed as near threatened.

Dr Julian Fennessy, director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, said: "Whilst giraffe are commonly seen on safari, in the media, and in zoos, people - including conservationists - are unaware 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.

"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."

Numbers have slumped by 40pc because of habitat loss and poaching.

Irish Independent

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