A new study found that giraffes, the mighty mammal species, are in danger of becoming extinct in the wild as their numbers have decreased significantly.
Giraffes, the long-necked, mighty specimens are amongst the world’s most famous mammals. However, their global fame may have potentially been a double-edged sword.
A new wildlife survey went to reveal concerning numbers about the long-necked animal. Contrary to the quite constant number of giraffes inhabiting our zoos or natural reservations, the wildlife population took a sharp plunge.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN released its updated Red List. IUCN’ Red List is updated every year and includes a List of Threatened Species.
As such, the list includes all animal species which are marked according to their current situation. The latest such list moved giraffes from the “safe” to the “vulnerable” list subtype.
Julian Fennessy, the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group co-chair, went to explain. Fennessy stated that the mighty animal has been subjected to a silent extinction.
IUCN’s updated Red List was presented during the United Nations Convention on Species Protection which is taking place in Cancun, Mexico.
The survey behind the Red List determined that the global population has dropped by as much as 40 percent. The percentage drop spans over the past three decades time.
Giraffes, the already iconic species, is the only mammal whose place on the list had to be changed. IUCN estimates note that, in 2015, there were approximately 97,562 giraffes living in the wild.
The population drop is very visible when comparing current to past population numbers. In 1985, the reported number of giraffes was in between 151,000 to 163,000 wild specimens.
IUCN also pointed out that these mighty mammals are facing difficult times in some areas. Living in Central, West, and East Africa is proving to be increasingly difficult.
Environmental groups and some analysts exposed the most probable causes for the current population drop. Amongst the most probable causes, one can include illegal hunting and habitat loss.
The giraffe habitat loss is caused by the expansion of mining and agricultural practices. At the same time, humans and wildlife are believed to live in a conflictual situation.
Following the latest survey, more than 4 giraffe species have been found to be endangered. Amongst its various subtypes, the only giraffe subtypes to register an increase is the gum-tree species.
In between the endangered giraffe subtypes, the Northern species was seen to be the most threatened. Currently, the subtype numbers about 4,750 specimens in the wild. As such, its population numbers places it amongst the most endangered species of mammals.
Giraffes were not the only animals to have registered a population drop. The survey went to show that African elephants are in an even greater danger.
Researchers believed that there may have once been about 20 million elephants in Africa. Following the first Red List continent-wide consensus, there are only 352, 271 wild elephants left.
Initial estimates had approximated an elephant population of about 400,000 to 630,000.
The IUCN Red List of endangered animals and plants contains about 85,604 following its latest update. Amongst the total number, 24,307 species were noticed to be threatened by extinction.
As the IUCN Director General warned, many more animals may be facing extinction in the future as the trend may result in a global crisis.
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