The tallest animal on land is currently running short in numbers and in the last three decades, the population of giraffes has reduced by over 50%.
Last year, the Red List added giraffes to the 'vulnerable' category revealing that the number of the tallest land animal is decreasing rapidly and if nothing is done, the poor animals will face extinction real soon. And, it looks like 'soon' isn't that far now.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has now declared the animal ENDANGERED. Masai giraffes, a subspecies found in areas of Kenya is struggling with numbers and fighting to survive on their own land.
According to Nat Geo, in the last 30 years, the number of Masai giraffes has decreased by a heartbreaking 50%. Not only that, when it comes to the giraffe population in general, it has also been reduced drastically by 40% over the years.
'Why' you ask? Human beings. The animal species whose population was never a concern is now on the brink of being wiped out from the earth all because humans can't stop poaching and killing them.
“This was devastating news...It really sounds the alarm bell,” says Tanya Sanerib, international legal director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It really indicates that we need to be doing more for giraffes internationally and with whatever tools are available.” Even though hunting of giraffes is illegal, they are still being poached ruthlessly for their meat, bones, and sometimes just for the thrill of it.
Other two subspecies - Nubian and Kordofan giraffes have quietly entered the list of 'critically endangered.' Giraffes have been a hunter's favorite since forever as their tall bodies make them more noticeable in the wild and hence, more vulnerable to hunting.
“Whilst 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,” said Julian Fennessy, the co-chairman of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission’s Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group. In the last 30 years, the number of giraffes has dropped from 157,000 individuals in 1985 to 97,500 at last count.
“With a decline of almost 40 percent 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. As one of the world’s most iconic animals, it is timely that we stick our neck out for the giraffe before it is too late,” Julian added in a press conference.
Even though the news of giraffes entering the endangered club came as a shock to many, the rate at which giraffes are hunted down should have been a clue. The animal is regularly hunted for its parts.
For some hunters, it's all about the money they'd get by selling the products and for some, it's a matter of pride because killing a harmless animal who's minding its own business is such a mighty deed, isn't it?
Other than hunting, industrialization and constant deforestation leading to a loss of habitat, are also one of the reasons the giraffe is struggling to survive. Human disturbance has caused numerous species to disappear forever. Pika, the Bornean orangutan, Giant Otter, Amur Leopard, Black-Footed Ferret, Sumatran Rhinoceros, and Pangolin are some other animals fighting for survival.
Humans have already erased the existence of so many animals and birds from the planet, how many more will it take for us to realize animals are not ours to kill? We don't own them.