Are Giraffes on the Endangered Species List?

Back in the 1980s, there were over 155,000 giraffes in their population. In 2015, those numbers dropped to less than 100,000 individual giraffes. This comes out to a 40 percent drop in population in only 30 years. This information led the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to move this species from the “least concern” list to the “vulnerable” to extinction one. This comes as a surprise to many people because of the popularity of giraffes and their common appearances in zoos and safaris. Since 2016, has the IUCN added giraffes to the endangered species list? Keep reading to find out.

Are Giraffes Endangered?

To give you the simple answer, not all of them are on the endangered species list. Most people assume that giraffes are a single species, and many companies will only recognize the animals as a single species. On the other hand, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation recognizes four different species of giraffe and four subspecies. Each of these species and subspecies has different circumstances, leading some of them to grow and others to shrink in population.

Between 1985 and 2015, the Nubian giraffe population in areas in Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Kenya fell by 97 percent. In the same time period, the Angolan giraffe population in Namibia increased by 167 percent. In 1996, there were only 50 West African giraffes in the world, but proper education of the people helped that population to grow by 400 percent.

Now that you have some numbers, we can discuss which populations are at risk. The entire giraffe population is vulnerable and at risk, but we consider two subspecies endangered. One is the West African giraffe, which still has small numbers even though they have grown in recent years. The other endangered subspecies is the Rothschild’s giraffe, which is now considered part of the Nubian subspecies.

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Main Challenges for Giraffes

There are four main challenges that giraffes face that have caused the drop in population over the years. For most endangered species, challenges include habitat loss and poaching. The giraffe population is not any different. Here are the four main struggles:

  • Habitat Loss: There are several reasons why this species is losing their habitat. It comes from building roads and buildings, deforestation, and using the land for agriculture. Each of these activities forces giraffes further away, which affects their local ecosystems as well.
  • Civil Unrest: There are certain countries in Africa that experience war, military activity, and other forms of civil unrest. These activities affect the animals in the area and force them out of their habitat.
  • Poaching: Like many of the impressive animals in Africa, giraffes have fallen victim to poaching. Some tribes hunt giraffes for their meat and skin, and some people hunt the giraffe purely for its tail. Some tribes see having a giraffe’s tail as a status symbol to some tribes and some families will include this item as part of their daughter’s dowry.
  • Ecological Changes: One ecological changes that affect the giraffe populations include changes in the land due to mining. On top of that, climate change has affected them as well.

How Others Are Helping

There are several organizations that are doing their best to help stabilize giraffe populations and help them to grow. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation provides several programs for many of the countries in Africa. They also hold World Giraffe Day and Adopt a Giraffe worldwide. They hope that by educating the people and helping countries form better laws and policies, we can keep giraffes from going extinct. You can contribute through their worldwide programs and spread the word to those around you, as well as speak out against trophy hunting. Giraffes are already extinct from several African countries that they used to inhabit. Thankfully, we can help prevent the population from shrinking further.

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Lacey Jolley

I love exploring, experiencing new places, and eating good food! I'm amazed every day at how well the Earth provides for us, and I want to return the favor. I hope to help others learn how we can make our world a better, cleaner place.

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