Scientists fear that the world’s tallest animal, the giraffe, is vulnerable to a ‘silent extinction’. In 30 years, the population has been reduced by 40%.
Scientists have now placed the giraffe in the lead on a global ‘red list’, classifying the species as vulnerable. They are now two steps higher on the ‘extinction ladder’ by comparison to species that are of least concern.
In 1985, there were between 151,000 and 163,000 giraffes in the world. The figure last year had dropped to 97,562, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
At a meeting in Mexico on Wednesday, the IUCN sharpened the status of 35 species, with seven red-listed species reducing their vulnerability status. The giraffe was the only mammal to receive a changed status.
‘Everybody assumes that giraffes are everywhere’, said Julian Fennessy, who heads a foundation to preserve giraffes. Together with one of the biologists who placed the animal on the Red List, Noelle Kumpel, he says the species is vulnerable to what he calls a ‘silent extinction.’
‘There is a strong tendency to believe that the known species , such as giraffes, chimpanzees and the like , must be safe, because we know them and we see them in zoos. It is a dangerous attitude’, said biologist Stuart Pimm, at Duke University in the U.S.A.
Until now, scientists have thought it good enough to estimate the number of giraffes and where they exist. Instead of counting them as nine different subspecies, they are merged into one category. Fennessy said that as well as disease and poaching, shrinking habitat is the main threat to the giraffe species.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today