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Giraffes are also threatened by the proliferation of disease, including a lesion-inducing skin disease that is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as inbreeding (a result of populations’ inability to intermix due to habitat fragmentation) and the increased frequency and magnitude of droughts associated with climate change. GIRAFFES will be labelled an endangered species, after a worrying population decline prompted petitions for the animal to be protected by law. In addition to stopping the widespread trade in giraffe parts, it would direct funding to giraffe conservation and require U.S. government agencies to coordinate their activities to ensure that no federal action further imperils the species. There are nine subspecies of giraffes and all are en… 41. Having such a long neck isn’t all easy, though. And, as human populations rise, the demand for meat will only cause further detriment to giraffe populations living in proximity. A rare subspecies is being slaughtered for use as a dowry. They are very well-known in the Western world, thanks their presence at zoos and the popularity of toys like Sophie the giraffe or Geoffrey the Giraffe, the mascot of the now-defunct chain, Toys ‘R Us, or April, the perpetually pregnant giraffe whose live birthing garnered millions of online viewers. And an endangered listing would not altogether cancel out the struggle that federal authorities face in working with legal provisions that allow the importation of endangered species parts that are at least 100 years old. One of the biggest sellers is giraffe bone, which has become a replacement for elephant ivory in knife and gun handles. Giraffes are susceptible to poaching as they are largely docile animals that are easy to kill and provide a lot of meat. Giraffes face mounting threats from habitat loss and fragmentation: Growing human populations and urban development — and the accompanying increase in agriculture, mines, and other extractive industries — are destroying giraffes' homes and converting their habitat for human use. Read more. At any given moment, even a modestly savvy internet shopper can find thousands of products made from giraffe parts online. Listed as Critically endangered 2 more subspecies are vulnerable according to the IUCN Learn more about the threats facing wild animals including giraffe. Support organizations, like NRDC, that are fighting to save giraffes, as well as on-the-ground organizations like the Giraffe Conservation Fund. For example, the Kordofan giraffe has lost 90 percent of its population since the late 1980s and is down to just 2,000 individuals in the wild. NRDC conservation expert Sylvia Fallon offers tips for being a better neighbor to local animals. And for some of the nine subspecies, this risk is imminent. State Disclosures. Giraffes can still be found in 21 African countries, and in zoos in almost every part of the world. Many giraffe populations are already severely fragmented, in addition to being at least 50 percent smaller than reported half a century ago in many regions. They’re being considered for ‘endangered’ status. Having a long neck may make giraffes seem really cool on the outside, but the physiology underneath, helping it all work, makes it even more exceptional! Let us know if you liked this article. An ESA listing would also shine a much needed spotlight on the plight of giraffes, a development that is less concrete but no less important than specific regulatory measures. Why are giraffes endangered? And finally it did bupkis. The hooves of an adult giraffe are approximately the size of your dinner plate. Sudan, which was home to some 13,000 giraffes in the early 1980s, now shelters a population numbering only in the hundreds; its war has increased wildlife trafficking and poaching. Giraffes with a longer neck also typically get to enjoy a higher rank within the social hierarchy, allowing them to dominate other males and, statistically, mate more frequently, giving them a “leg up” on transmitting those long-necked genes. Nubian giraffes are a subspecies of northern giraffe, and just 2,645 are left in the wild. Hunting giraffes is illegal in both Kenya and Tanzania, but they are poached for their hide, meat, bones, and tails. Although these new listings sound the alarm, there is reason for hope. But why, since most species of giraffes live in similar landscapes? Giraffes used to range continuously through much of the African savanna, but they now live in a handful of communities scattered in clumps across the continent. Part of the reason why giraffes have suffered from such a drastic decline is simply because no one was really paying attention. Giraffes have already become extinct in seven African countries, so, while it is hard to believe that such a well-known species could be removed from an ecosystem, it has already happened in many places. Giraffes have been declared critically endangered in Kenya. Giraffes are a threatened species and many of their populations are endangered and declining.. Many animals are killed in order to feed those who hunt, but the demand from other countries for bush meat is also high (and much of which is actually exported to Europe and elsewhere). Their size, particularly their legs and feet, give them a mighty kick that can deter even big cats like lions and leopards. We Made It Only Two Days Into the New Year Before a Species Went Extinct, Week 114: Trump’s EPA Questions if Air Pollution Really Kills (It Does), and Nearly 1,400 Endangered Species Get Sold Out, Poachers Abuse an International-Law Loophole to Sell Some of the Rarest Animals on Earth. Why don't giraffes drink much water? © Natural Resources Defense Council 2020 Privacy Policy Elly Pepper, deputy director of NRDC’s wildlife trade program, says giraffes are headed toward extinction. Thornicrofts and West African giraffes, on the other hand, are considered to be "vulnerable," while the Rothschild’s giraffe is "near threatened." “Giraffes are undergoing a silent extinction, having declined 40 percent over the past 30 years, though few seem to know this,” Pepper says. Three of the nine giraffe subspecies are currently considered critically endangered. According to the IUCN, both subspecies are “critically endangered,” which means they face an “extremely high risk” of extinction in the wild. Calls from their constituents will encourage them to pick up their own phones to help save these majestic animals. Giraffes eat about 140 pounds of food every day, all consisting of leaves. Two subspecies of giraffe have now been listed as 'critically endangered' as humans encroach on their habitat. Where its power derives is in the thickness of the muscles around its heart, which can be measured getting thicker as the size of the giraffe increases and its blood supply demands grow. Though many governments are enacting new habitat management and protection for giraffes through conservation initiatives and improved law enforcement, community awareness is still struggling to keep up. How Can Endangered Species Be on Both IUCN’s Red List and the New Green List. Never, ever buy giraffe products. In 2016, all four species of giraffe were upgraded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to “Vulnerable” and two species in particular, the West African giraffe and the Rothschild’s giraffe, are now listed as “Endangered.”. The next steps are endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild and extinct. Currently the members of the convention are mulling over a proposal to list the species, brought forth by the giraffe range states of the Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Niger, and Senegal. Thankfully this complex pressure regulation system can manage these wild extremes — and can prevent too much blood flow to the brain when the giraffe has to bend all the way down to drink water. Civil wars are a further challenge. Giraffes have the biggest eyes among terrestrial mammals — their peripheral vision extends so wide that they can see behind themselves! Jean Baptiste Lamarck used giraffes as an example of his theories, completely change the habitats around them, upgraded by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to “Vulnerable”, Why Is Genetic Diversity Important for Survival. Two subspecies (Kordofan and Nubian giraffe), are now listed as Critically Endangered, Reticulated giraffe as Endangered, Thornicroft’s giraffe as Vulnerable, while Angolan giraffe are listed as Least Concern. But as human population numbers rise, and settlements are established that require the cutting of trees, habitat loss becomes a huge threat to all species of giraffe. You'll receive your first NRDC action alert and update email soon. Also known as the Nigerien giraffe, the West … On Thursday, at … The declining numbers are due largely to poaching, habitat loss, human population growth and degradation of the giraffe's habitat. How You Can Help. Giraffe are highly social animals and live in herds of 15-20 female giraffe and some young males. Standard giraffe pregnancies last 15 months, but the period of time is not set as it is for humans. When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. Each one of their cervical vertebrae is just longer. Knowing giraffes. Giraffes are in serious trouble. The theory rests on the idea that the ability to not rely on high competition vegetation that was lower to the ground gave the giraffes with longer necks the ability to be be healthy, reproduce, and transmit those long-necked genes to their offspring. In the face of ever-growing pressure on their livelihoods, some Sudanese have also turned to giraffe bushmeat as a means of survival. In the case of giraffes, we know that males have longer necks than females, and also engage in a male-male fighting over mates, referred to as “necking.”. According to data provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the giraffe population has been in declined since 1985. While this cottage industry is a boon to many low-income workers, it’s a problem for giraffes, who rely on those trees for sustenance. Giraffes Are Threatened with Extinction Giraffe numbers have plummeted over the past three decades. When CITES confers conservation status on a species, it restricts the international trade in that creature. For most endangered species, challenges include habitat loss and poaching. Of the threats facing the planet’s tallest mammals, habitat loss is one of the gravest. As an iconic animal of Africa’s savannah, it would be heartbreaking to lose the symbol of the wild – that silhouette of the giraffe on the sunset horizon of the savannah, yet it could be a strong possibility if action is not taken soon. As a result, giraffe population has decreased 40% … Why are giraffes important to the environment? If you explained it through the application of a basic Darwinian methodology, the giraffes developed a unique ecological niche through the evolution of a long neck by experiencing gradual anatomical changes that allowed them to reach resources, in this case, leaves, that were higher and unattainable to other species. Members of Congress have a direct line of communication with decision makers at the U.S. More than half of those live in Murchison Falls National Park. In the 1980s, it was estimated that about 150,000 total giraffes lived in the wild, but today, not even 40 years later, that number has dropped by 40 percent Africa-wide. The giraffe population is not any different. The world's tallest land mammal has … Our goal is to inspire people to change their attitudes and behaviors toward a more sustainable life. Then it did nada. Support WWF. According to IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, there are only over 4,000 Kordofan and Nubian giraffes left in the wild — meaning, the gentle creatures are just a stage away from being extinct. Excellent for keeping a lookout for lions. Additionally, giraffes don’t actually have more cervical vertebrae in their necks than, say, humans. Around half of the giraffes in Africa today are Masai giraffes. Given that fact, plus the alarmingly vigorous trade in giraffe parts in the United States, endangered status would trigger several important protections for the species. “Giraffes are in serious danger of extinction, and that is why the U.S. Elly Pepper, deputy director of NRDC’s Wildlife Trade Initiative, says there’s much that U.S. advocates can do to end the illegal marketplaces endangering animals across the globe. International Union for Conservation of Nature, increased wildlife trafficking and poaching, U.S. hunters imported 3,744 dead giraffes between 2006 and 2015, mulling over a proposal to list the species, Pro-extinction Policies Do Not Sit Well With Americans, Whatever Their Stripe, Facing Down the Ivory Sellers, Pangolin Poachers, and Giraffe Traders, Epic Animals Aren’t Meant for Trafficking, To Save These Rare Giraffes, Uganda Built an Ark (of Sorts). How Can I Protect Wildlife in My Community? In Niger, where many giraffes have been struck by cars, the population is so small and isolated that conservation officials have taken the drastic step of transporting some of the animals to a safer space. A giraffe’s heart has to generate nearly double the normal blood pressure of other mammals to give the giraffe’s brain adequate blood supply. It is hard to imagine that they are not equally abundant in the wild, but the assumption that they are and the subsequent lack of public support for conservation programs to save them is putting the survival of the giraffe across Africa in jeopardy. “We have a huge awareness problem,” Pepper says. The remaining herds are fragmented and face a multitude of threats, from habitat loss to poaching. So, as giraffes are distributed closer and further from the equator within Africa, they can be more specialized to withstand the direct sunlight they are subjected to during their long periods of open grazing. What is the key to their success?https://t.co/179Z5AnYTw pic.twitter.com/Qw7hXuBBQK. Giraffes occur in countries with the highest fertility rates in the world, so human encroachment is a threat that will only continue to grow. Their legs and neck are not the only thing about the giraffe that’s huge – their tongues can be up to two feet long! Poaching also plays a major role in the decline, particularly in Tanzania, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and which actually forms a more disturbing part of a wider issue. Though they have been known to be victims of crocodiles, it is not a common occurrence. Famously, early evolutionary biologist Jean Baptiste Lamarck used giraffes as an example of his theories, that, if an animal needed to adapt to suit its environment, it could do so within its own lifetime. How do female giraffes give birth? The Giraffe Conservation Foundation is working to provide giraffes with new safe spaces. Habitat destruction is the leading reason Giraffes are endangered. The population of Masai giraffes has declined by almost 50% in the last three decades. Because conservation is working—and success should be celebrated. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which implements the ESA, to recognize giraffes as endangered. The Natural Resources Defense Council works to safeguard the earth - its people, Female giraffes give birth standing up and within 30 minutes, offspring are standing and then running only hours later. But until now, no international regulations governed their trade. The fate of Achatinella apexfulva is a cautionary tale of decorative gardens, imported cannibals, and snail sex (or lack thereof). At the time, Garamba was home to just 40 Kordofan giraffes ― the only remaining population in the Congo. It is also believed that giraffes’ tall vantage point and excellent vision help them to spot danger early, and gives other herbivores in the area the “heads up” when carnivores are coming. An important international agreement for stopping illegal wildlife trade deserves our attention—and now. The biggest effect of giraffes’ listing under the ESA would be a severe curtailing of importation and trade within the country. Giraffes live in areas that are also inhabited by endangered mammals, such as Cape hunting dogs, leopards, and Abbott’s duiker, endangered birds, such as the secretary bird, southern ground hornbill, and martial eagle, and endangered reptiles, such as the Usambara spotted worm snake. So, if a giraffe was trying to reach leaves that were too high, it would be able to stretch and eventually lengthen its own neck to reach them. its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. They have the ability to completely change the habitats around them.. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature states that the giraffe population has gone down by over 40% in the past 30 years. While giraffes don’t live in the wild in the United States, Pepper adds that “there are steps the government must take under the terms of U.S. law to protect them.” It’s important to acknowledge the iconic mammals are a favorite trophy target of hunters traveling to Africa; U.S. hunters imported 3,744 dead giraffes between 2006 and 2015. In actuality, it was his theories that were a bit of a stretch. So, a year and a half later, the coalition sued. Giraffe’s spots are most importantly for camouflage, but they also house a sophisticated system of blood vessels that help the giraffe to release heat. In West Africa, giraffes are hunted for their tails, their pelts, and their meat. Around ten years ago, a belief in the healing power of giraffe bone marrow and brains sprang up, with practitioners touting their ability to protect and cure people of HIV/AIDS. When we say that "giraffes are a vulnerable species" we are referring to officially vulnerable status. A giraffe’s blood pressure is extremely high – twice that found in a healthy human, and its heart beats up to 170 times per minute. They have the ability to completely change the habitats around them. There are four main challenges that giraffes face that have caused the drop in population over the years. December 3, 2014, 3:31 PM • … Illegal hunting is also a problem for the species. Giraffes used to range continuously … An endangered assessment is an eye opener that signals the critical need for giraffe protections,” says Adam Peyman, wildlife programs and operations manager for … Family. We are working hard to improve our content. “There are fewer giraffes left on this planet than African elephants.”. Increased urbanisation, poaching, illegal hunting practices, and civil unrest in parts of Africa prove to be an increasing danger for giraffes. Giraffes are not classified as an endangered species. As poachers and oil drills threaten a recently war-torn national park, a team of rangers and scientists send an endangered herd on an epic journey. And, of course, spreading the word about the marvels of the giraffe, extending past just its long neck. Read more about us. Current populations of the four species of giraffes are widely scattered and fragmented, and each population is subject to a variety of threats specific to its region. Rather than facing the wrath of a federal judge, FWS issued a finding in April 2019 that the endangerment listing “may be warranted.” That gave the agency nine additional months to decide whether the listing is, in fact, warranted. Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty. Giraffes, the world’s tallest land mammals and a majestic sight in zoos and reserves everywhere, are being threatened with extinction because of illegal hunting and a decline in their natural habitat, a report says.. In the wild, giraffes have few predators aside from humans. Finally, the robust international trade in giraffes and their parts—a trade in which the United States plays a significant role—is a major factor in the species’ decline. Giraffes are curiously ungainly animals. In 2016 it … (It can be exceedingly difficult for a customs official to determine the age of a piece of elephant ivory or giraffe bone.). Four out of five of us express support for the Endangered Species Act. Two subspecies of giraffe have populations of less than 250 animals, including the West African giraffe and the Nubian giraffe. There are situations in which trade in giraffe parts might still be permitted, such as for use in research, education, and activities to help propagate the species. Of the nine subspecies of giraffes, Masai and reticulated giraffes are endangered, and Nubian and Kordofan giraffes are critically endangered. Sadly, it’s not just the meat that is in high demand. It’s not just one thing which contributes to such a decline but a combination of complex factors which must be considered together to understand the full picture. (You can’t.). Poaching of elephants and rhinoceros and the illegal trade … Giraffe-hide rugs and clothing are also common, as are taxidermied body parts. The complex blood pressure system that the giraffe uses to regulate its gangly body has actually been used as inspiration by NASA in their development of human space suits. Many people, including conservationists, remain unaware that the world’s tallest animal is experiencing a silent slide towards extinction. As he explains in the NatGeo video below, Hamlin was flying over Garamba National Park in June when he spotted three of the park’s critically endangered giraffes in a clearing. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports. Their proposal would ensure that all traded giraffe parts were legally acquired and not taken from poached giraffes. While traversing the landscape to feed all day, they are in actuality pruning and distributing seeds across the terrain, helping to keep the habitat managed for other wildlife to use. How can you tell the difference between a captive-bred turtle and a wild-caught one? In some countries, like Mali, the giraffe has disappeared completely. In 2017, a coalition of conservation groups (including NRDC) petitioned the U.S. Giraffes may look all the same, but in the wild, there are actually four species of giraffes: Though it has been reported that giraffes have cross-bred in zoos, all of these species and their subspecies live in very geographically distinct areas across the continent of Africa, and very infrequently overlap in the wild. Recognition of their plight by the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) would also go a long way toward helping to save giraffes. They are instantly recognizable. Cause behind giraffes becoming endangered. 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