The past decade has been a tough one for giraffes. A shrinking habitat and increased poaching have slashed their population dramatically. And now, research reveals there are fewer giraffes left in the wild than elephants. Rated as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the swift decline has conservationists worried that extinction is just around the corner for the tallest of species.
Home to some of the most unique species on the planet, Africa’s expanse no longer offers the protection it has in the past. Booming human population and the development that goes along with it is eating up the open space. Poverty and desperation have pushed people to find food wherever they can, including hunting giraffes for meat. Though national parks and other protected areas exist, the fragmentation of habitat prevents giraffes from ranging as they evolved to do to find food. Starvation and disease are more and more common.
It may seem difficult to help make a difference in the giraffe population. But, awareness, education, and speaking out can have a positive impact! China’s recent ban on the ivory trade is an excellent example of how public sentiment can push governments to make positive change. The campaigning for elephants undeniably precipitated this lifesaving move, and could similarly save giraffes.
Working to protect giraffes will also benefit countless others. Giraffes aren’t the only species under pressure from human expansion; entire ecosystems face increasing constraints. Giraffes act as an umbrella species, meaning hundreds of other creatures fall under their protection. Like polar bears and elephants, giraffes are high profile, unique and attractive to humans. Protecting them will in turn protect the plants and animals that share the space and resources.
A number of organizations are raising awareness of the giraffes’ plight and doing things to help. You can do your part by supporting them and sharing your love for the giraffe!
- A giraffe gives birth standing up, the calf falling six feet to the ground! The calf will walk within hours and stand taller than a grown man.
- With historical estimates of numbers over 1 million and dropping to 155,000 in the 1980s, the giraffe population has swiftly fallen to less than 80,000 in Africa today.
- The iconic giraffe tongue is blackish blue and over a foot long!
- Only recently discovered through genetic testing, there are four unique giraffe species.
- Each giraffe coat pattern is unique, just like a human fingerprint.