The conservation of giraffes has been overlooked for decades and as a result giraffes are in the midst of what some call a “silent extinction.”
Unlike the attention lavished on the disappearance of great apes and elephants (There are four times as many African elephants as giraffes.), people have ignored the disappearance of giraffes and assumed they are doing just fine in the wild.
Mercifully, the world is beginning to wake up. Last December, the State of New York became the first in the nation—and the world—to ban the trade in their body parts.
Kenya is the only country in Africa that hosts three different species of giraffe. (See their markings below.)
Of the three, the Reticulated and the Masai are endangered.
Across Africa, the general giraffe population has declined by almost 40 percent over the past three decades.
Estimations as of 2016 indicate that there are approximately 97,500 giraffes in the wild, down from 155,000 in 1985.
While a great deal of this decline is due to disease and both legal and illegal hunting, the loss of large-scale habitat plays a greater role, fragmenting and degrading the giraffe’s preferred habitat.
Kenya is at the forefront of giraffe conservation. Last September, in an effort to better understand their spatial movements and habitat use in the wild, scientist fitted 28 solar powered GPS satellite tracking units to endangered reticulated giraffe in northern Kenya. Tranquilizing a giraffe to hook it up with a GPS tracker is a lot harder than it sounds – and it sounds hard!
The giraffe is the national animal of Tanzania, and is protected by law.