After lions and elephants, giraffes now stare at extinction

Humans are the only reason why giraffes are dying in unprecedented numbers.
The global population of giraffes has slumped 40 percent over the last 30 years, as the world’s tallest animal inches closer to extinction.
The alarming revelation was made in a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a Switzerland-headquartered organisation working in the field of wildlife and biodiversity protection.

According to IUCN,  the giraffe population plummeted to 97,562 in 2015 from around 1.6 lakh in 1985. The IUCN review has now categorised the mammal as vulnerable on its Red List marker, which tracks species that are facing global extinction.

The IUCN report highlighted that most from the family of the animal species were found in southern and eastern parts of Africa, with smaller populations  also inhabiting parts of western and central Africa.

IUCN squarely blames humans for the dropping giraffe numbers, fearing that the long-necked animal may be the next in line to elephants, rhinoceros and lions in terms of facing an existential threat.

The report pinned the blame for dwindling numbers on mainly illegal hunting, human-wildlife conflict, civil wars that plagues many African countries, mining and agriculture.

However, there may be a sliver of hope as the report also found that three of the total nine subspecies of the animal have seen an increase in population. Five subspecies have seen drop in numbers, while the numbers of one have remain unchanged.

The co-chairman of IUCN’s Giraffe division, Julian Fennessy, urged everyone world over to “stick their neck out” for the animal.

“While giraffes are commonly seen on safari, in the media and in zoos, people – including conservationists – are unaware that these majestic animals are undergoing a silent extinction,” Fennessy was quoted as saying.

“With a decline of almost 40 per cent in the last three decades alone, the world’s tallest animal is under severe pressure in some of its core ranges across East, Central and West Africa,” he said.

The IUCN report also found some of the recently discovered lesser known species of birds are on the verge of extinction as well.

 “Many species are slipping away before we can even describe them,” IUCN Director General Inger Andersen was reported saying.