At a biodiversity meeting on December 7, in Mexico, the IUCN increased the threat level for 35 species and lowered the threat level for seven species on its 'Red List', considered by scientists the official record of what animals and plants are in danger of disappearing. The status of the giraffe changed in 2016 and scientists are blaming habitat loss.
While the focus has been on elephants, the irony according to Julian Fennessy, co-director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, is that there are four times more large mammals such as elephants and rhinos in the world than giraffes. Fennessy described it as the "silent extinction."
"Everyone assumes giraffes are everywhere," said Fennessy, co-director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
Fennessy blames the shrinking living space, which has been worsened by poachers, as well as disease. People are moving into an area where the giraffes live, which has led to fragmented giraffe populations, making them shrink in size, with wild giraffes gone from seven countries, including Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal, said Kumpel of the Zoological Society of London.
"The Giraffe now joins the list of iconic wild animals threatened as a result of human activities. How many more must be pushed to the brink before we start taking responsibility and investing in our natural heritage for the sake of all wildlife and future generations?" Will Travers OBE, President and CEO of international wildlife charity, Born Free Foundation, said in an official statement.
Born Free is currently supporting the conservation of the West African or Niger Giraffe. Numbered in the hundreds, this sub-species has been slowly recovering but is by no means secure.