One of the most loved, innocent and unique animal species, Giraffe are close to extinction. Africa is the most Giraffe populated continent in the world and their numbers are decreasing across all of the country. The main reasons are poaching, over hunting, habitat fragmentation and habitat loss. This is happening due to increased human population.
Their population numbers have declined over 40 percent in the last 15 years. There were 140,000 giraffes in Africa 15 years ago but now the number have reduced to less than 80,000 across Africa. It has been reported that they are not given proper attention and no promising steps have been taken to protect them, either by government or conservation groups.
With their population rapidly decreasing, the scientists and experts are somewhat silent on the issue or not taking it seriously. In comparison to elephant extinction issue that has received large amount of attention from media as well as experts and scientists, giraffe extinction has not gained much recognition.
The issue hasn’t appeared on the headlines yet, nor it is on the hit list of any organization, however, it is hoped that their rapidly declining numbers would draw more attention from the experts and public. Only a few steps have yet been taken to protect the animal, like banning or restrictions on hunting, introduction of licensed hunting, but people are still hunting wild life illegally.
The main conservation organization that has taken the issue seriously and dedicated to protecting from extinction is The Giraffe Conservation Foundation. They are conducting research and collecting data on quantifying the current status of their species and their nine subspecies. Two subspecies are endanger more than others, but other subspecies will also become endangered species very soon.
Giraffes are seen everywhere, they are in many zoo’s and surpassed only by sea lions in zoological collections. This is the main reason they are perceived as abundant in number. The threats are local as most of them are found across Africa and that is the region that is losing giraffe habitat rapidly.
Poaching is another major cause of this species’ extinction. People hunt and eat their meat. The meat is found to be delicious by many. There is large amount of meat in one animal and they are not difficult to hunt. Tanzania is one of the countries that is hunting and consuming their meat in abundance. People of Tanzania believe that eating giraffe meat can also be a possible cure for HIV, especially the animals brain and bone marrow.
Apart from being a popular diet, they are also used for commercial purposes. Their skin is used for making shoes, clothing, bags and jewelry etc. There are local businesses that rely of the animal as a source of income for many African tribes.
One African country that has taken extinction issue seriously is Niger. Niger is said to have many densely populated giraffe forests, and a decline in their number has become a great concern. Its government was first to take and apply conservation steps. Following Niger, Kenya is also drafting measures to be taken to protect them after losing a vast number of mammals from their forests.
There is a great need to bring awareness to the problem as the giraffe species is very close to extinction. The need to develop and implement protective measures, not only in Africa but in all continents, is very important. For the animal, it is the time that the world must pay attention to how endangered the giraffe has become.
By Atika Jilani