The world’s tallest land mammal might be facing extinction. Two subspecies of giraffes (out of the nine in existence) have just been added to the “critically endangered” list for the first time, according to the latest report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Kordofan and Nubian giraffe subspecies — found mainly across East, Central, and West Africa — are now classified as “critically endangered,” while the reticulated giraffe — native to the Horn of Africa — is listed as “endangered.” Since giraffes are widely overlooked when it comes to research and conservation efforts, the new classifications came as a surprise, even to some conservationists.
Dr. Julian Fennessey, co-chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, said in a statement that giraffes are “under severe pressure in some of its core ranges across East, Central, and West Africa…we have been sounding the alarm for a few years now.” And like most problems facing our natural world, humans are at the root of it all. In addition to illegal hunting and civil unrest in those parts of the African continent, loss of habitat due to agriculture and mining is one of the biggest threats to the species.
Although things are looking grim for the Kordofan and Nubian giraffes, two other giraffe subspecies — the West African and the Rothschild’s — have had their conservation status upgraded. Arthur Muenza, East Africa coordinator of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, said in a statement, “This is a conservation success story and highlights the value of making proactive giraffe conservation and management efforts in critical populations across the continent.” He implores conservationists to step up their efforts, especially when it comes to these newly “critically endangered” subspecies.
H/T: The Telegraph