Are giraffes facing a silent extinction?

In more sad news about the environment, the giraffe has now been put in the list of animals at risk of extinction. The giraffe population has decreased in almost 40 percent during the last 30 years, and it is now in the official watchlist for “vulnerable” species. Scientists blame habitat loss for this situation: the living space of giraffes has considerably shrunk during the past decades, leaving these tall mammals with less food and a shorter space to move around, which also translates into fragmented communities.

Scientists are calling this situation a “silent extinction” as media focus and the public eye has been set on other, less common mammals such as the elephant, even though the elephant population is four times larger. Out of 151,000 thousand giraffes that were reportedly found during 1985, the population now counts only 97,652. If the speed of habitat loss continues at the same pace, we can be sure to be adding more species to the watch lists, and to be declaring other ones as extinct in the near future.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature had its last meeting in Mexico, and giraffes were the only mammals whose status as an endangered species changed. During this meeting the threat level was raised for other 35 species, and lowered for seven. As environmental issues continue to be of concern around the world, it is paramount that both governments and citizens take the steps that are required to protect endangered species. It has been reported that we are experiencing the fourth of Earth’s mass extinctions, and what is really worrisome is that, this time, mankind is to blame.

On the other hand, scientists believe that mankind could also reverse this tendency by adopting environmental laws that protect these species, not only directly (by forbidding hunting) but also indirectly, by adopting environmentally friendly farming techniques and lowering carbon emissions.