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Road to Extinction: African Giraffes Added to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Dec 09, 2016 04:00 AM EST
An African Safari
The giraffe population in Africa has significantly dwindled by 40 percent in the last three decades, moving from the least concerned to one of the vulnerable species in the IUCN Red List.
(Photo : Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

In yet another battle against a possible loss of its species, nature seems to be at the losing end once more. This time, with one of the world's most iconic animals, the giraffes of Africa.

In an official press release sent to Nature World News on Dec. 8, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) -- the world body in charge for the global Red List of Threatened Species -- has declared giraffes officially in danger of extinction. The announcement was made as a result of a new assessment of giraffes conducted by the world's leading experts.

Because of the overwhelming incidence of illegal hunting and the loss of natural habitat partly due to farming and the enduring war in northern Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia in the border area with South Sudan, the giraffe population in Africa has significantly dwindled by 40 percent in the last three decades. This resulted to the species moving from the "Least Concern" category to "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List.

In an interview with BBC News, Dr. Julian Fennessy, co-chairman of the IUCN giraffe specialist group, stated that the creatures are undergoing a "silent extinction."

"While there have been great concern about elephants and rhinos, giraffes have gone under the radar but, unfortunately, their numbers have been plummeting, and this is something that we were a little shocked about, that they have declined by so much in so little time," Fennessy said.

Despite living in supposedly government protected wildlife environments, such as national parks and wildlife reserves, the safety of giraffes are not guaranteed.

"In protected areas, we're still seeing giraffes threatened by poaching," Dr. Megan Strauss, who recently completed a study in Tanzania's world-famous Serengeti National Park, told Wild Nature Institute. "Poachers in Serengeti target giraffes with snares hung in the tree canopy and this has contributed to a substantial decline in their numbers."

The world's leading giraffe researchers and experts are working harder than ever, spending their life's work to save the last of giraffes of Africa, and they are urging everyone to do the same. Dr. Anne Dagg, a distinguished pioneer of giraffe research who dedicated almost 50 years to the conservation of the tallest land mammals said, "We must act now to ensure that these magnificent creatures never become extinct."

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