Massive Giraffe Extinction Masked By Public Image


Statistics show that giraffes are going extinct — a fact disguised behind their familiar presence in modern zoos and safaris.

The latest Red List of threatened species has moved giraffes from under the “least threatened” category to “vulnerable to extinction” which is a result of an indisputable sharp decline in their numbers over the last thirty years. Between 1985 and 2015 the giraffe population has decreased by nearly 40% — from more than 150,000 animals to less than 100,000.

Image: Tony Hisgett, Flickr
Image: Tony Hisgett, Flickr

This information was revealed last week at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity — and came as a massive public shock. Giraffes are a prominent component of major zoos, safari tours, and overwhelming iconic media, but behind the scenes they have been pushing closer to extinction. The giraffe population persists predominantly throughout southern and eastern parts of Africa. Five of the nine subspecies have revealed drastically reduced numbers on account of negative human impact highlighted by habitat destruction, civil warfare, and illegal poaching.


The most remarkable element of this special decline encompasses the Nubian giraffe population. Once widespread throughout the regions of Northwest Africa, it has lost more than 95% of its population and is extinct in the wild of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt and Eritrea with only a few hundred animals remaining in all of Africa.

Enactment of strong conservation measures is the only solution to this unexpected crisis. Expert Chris Ransom from the Zoological Society of London states that, “I think giraffes can survive, with the right conservation efforts, and we can ensure that the animals do live in the wild. There are a lot of cases of success in conservation. The giraffes could be one.”