A Surprise 'Silent Extinction': Giraffes

IUCN report reveals 'devastating' decline of nearly 40% over past 30 years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2016 7:41 AM CST

(Newser) – No one used to pay much mind to the giraffes that roamed Africa. But new numbers from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature show a significant decline in their population over the past three decades and have conservationists worried that the elegant creature is falling victim to what one IUCN expert calls a "silent extinction," the BBC reports. In 1985, there were between 152,000 and 163,000 giraffes, but that number dropped to 97,000 by 2015—a "devastating decline" of nearly 40% that now moves the animal from the "least concern" category into the "vulnerable" one on the group's Red List. "While there [has] been great concern about elephants and rhinos, giraffes have gone under the radar," says Dr. Fennessy, co-director of the IUCN's Giraffe Conservation arm.

story continues below

The updated Red List, released Thursday at a biological diversity conference in Cancun, Mexico, points to man as the main driver of the declining stats, with poaching, habitat loss, and local unrest all assuming partial blame. A Duke University conservation biologist says the IUCN is partly to blame, too, for not considering more species threatened. "There's a strong tendency to think that familiar species [such as giraffes, chimps, etc.] must be OK because ... we see them in zoos," he tells the AP. "This is dangerous." Some good news, at least for some long-neckers: Of the nine giraffe subspecies, three of them are experiencing increasing populations; one is stable. A resolution passed in September at the IUCN's World Conservation Congress hopes to reverse the falling numbers of "Africa's iconic megafauna." (Three rare giraffes were killed for their tails.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.