Recent research has revealed that the population of giraffes has declined by roughly forty percent over the past three decades. The IUCN has put these animals on the Red List.
According to this study, the giraffe is now among many other endangered species, and it is regarded as vulnerable to extinction. Giraffes are known as the tallest animals on the planet and one of the most popular species across the African continent.
Craig Hilton-Taylor, the Red List director, says that the overall population dropped from between 152,000 and 163,000 specimens to roughly 98,000. Hilton-Taylor is worried that no one has detected this problem until now.
Five decades ago, there were between twenty and thirty giraffes in a group. The biologists explain that the groups have just six specimens now, so we can no longer talk about giraffes living in herds.
Over the past five years, the Red List specialists have been monitoring giraffes to establish why they suffered such a massive decline. They surveyed many areas from airplanes, on foot, and by using land vehicles.
It is worth mentioning that this is the first comprehensive study of these animals. At the end of the survey, the experts concluded that no one had tried to conduct a large-scale project on these giants because they were always scattered throughout Africa.
Hilton-Taylor stresses humans represent the primary factor influencing the decreasing numbers of this species. He further adds that human impact has led to habitat loss among many species. Also, people have massively hunted many animals either for food or medicinal purposes.
According to Hilton-Taylor, climate change and pollution have also taken their toll on the continent affecting not just giraffes but many other wildlife species. Worse, lack of rain forces people to move into protected areas where many species, including giraffes, have found a refuge.
Political concerns and civil wars in Africa are also slowing down the conservation efforts. Fortunately, these animals can still be saved. Based on the recent reports, some populations have increased in some areas.
By observing what makes giraffes thrive in certain environments, the biologists can use this knowledge to help other animals which are not doing so well. Other conservation strategies include the development of tourism which provides many jobs for residents.