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Giraffes (Giraffa spp.) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status
This estimate combines IUCN estimates for G. c. angolensis and G. c. giraffa
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation estimates the total number of G. c. giraffa to be higher (31,500) than IUCN (21,387); future estimates may be revised to incorporate new data (Jenna Stacy-Dawes, personal communication, 2018)
Protected in most African countries where they occur.
Extinction risk varies among populations.
Management of giraffe populations, both inside and outside of protected areas
Distribution is still relatively widespread but greatly reduced compared to historical records
The species is fragmented across its range, with many populations in decline
Although all populations are currently considered as a single species for management, Brown et al. (2007) report that genetic subdivisions exist and suggest that not recognizing this could lead to endangerment or even extinction
Poaching: Hunted by humans for meat, bone, skin, organs, horns, and pelts.
Adult giraffes make up a high proportion of species (45%) caught in steel-wire snares; suggests targeted hunting. Many adults able to break free of neck ensnarement (Strauss et al. 2015).
Poaching under-reported. External, specialized markets may fetch higher prices than local bushmeat markets (Strauss et al. 2015).
Developing markets promoting giraffe bone marrow and other body parts as medicinal cures; more research needed (Strauss et al. 2015)
Some anti-poaching programs are proving effective (Saraud et al. 2012).
Trophy hunting (ecotourism)
Malnutrition (Brenneman et al. 2009, except as noted)
Changes in food supply: Palatable species not available in high enough abundance (Brenneman et al. 2009; Strauss et al. 2015).
Less food available during the dry season (Parker and Bernard 2005); also during drought attributed to El Niño weather cycles.
Acacia tannins: Possible effects include toxicity and/or reduced nutritional uptake.
Diseases, including those transmitted from domestic livestock (rinderpest). Health effects of parasites not well-understood.
Habitatdegradation, fragmentation, and loss
Competition for land and resources by rapidly growing human populations (Suraud et al. 2012; Giraffe Conservation Foundation 2013)
Clearing land for agriculture or timber harvesting
Direct or perceived competition between giraffe and livestock
Damage to crops by giraffe. In Niger, cowpeas and fruits, especially mangos (Leroy et al. 2009).
Has led to negative perceptions of giraffes by farmers.
Damage prevented with millet straw fences and timely harvesting.
Armed conflict, war, and civil unrest in Africa (Fennessy & Brown 2010; Giraffe Conservation Foundation 2013)
Management priorities (following The Giraffe Conservation Foundation 2013)
Raise international awareness of giraffe conservation
Protect giraffe habitat
Conduct research on giraffe ecology, conservation, and management
Identify evolutionarily significant taxonomic groups, including genetic information; assess extinction risk (Brown et al. 2007; Hassanin et al. 2007)
Establish the current status of all giraffe populations and (sub)species
Identify key threats to giraffe and approaches to mitigate threats
Develop a worldwide network of individuals and organizations committed to protecting giraffe
Develop conservation initiatives to work collaboratively with local communities (Leroy et al. 2009)
Factors to consider (Bercovitch and Deacon 2015)
Extent of segregation of different giraffe populations
Ability to identify suitable habitat for relocation, including diverse enough foliage to meet dietary needs
In areas where giraffe introduced, assess impacts of browsing on plant species (Parker and Bernard 2005).
Feasibility (risks to animals, cost, etc.) of relocation efforts
Ensuring adequate genetic diversity within regional pockets
Whether or not to reintroduce giraffe to parts of their former range where they have been extirpated
Future roles of ecotourism and regulated hunting practices in funding conservation programs
Note: The status and health of giraffe populations varies, depending on the local situation. Management plans should be tailored to the needs of local and regional populations (Berchovitch and Deacon 2015).
Saving Giraffes From Extinction
Many giraffe populations have not been well studied until recently. Wildlife conservationists call the drastic declines in giraffe numbers "a silent extinction."
Learn how scientific discoveries are helping San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance to help people and giraffes coexist.
Bercovitch and Deacon (2015) East (1999) Fennessy & Brown (IUCN) 2010 IUCN SSC GOSG (2016) Giraffe Conservation Foundation (2013) Hassanin et al. (2007) Lacky and LaRue (1997) Leroy et al. (2009) Parker and Bernard (2005) Saraud et al. (2012)
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