http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/ext ... er-threat/One of the world’s most iconic and beloved animals is quickly disappearing. Fifteen years ago about 140,000 giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) roamed the plains and forests of Africa. Today that number has plummeted by more than 40 percent, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). As with so many other species, the causes of this decline include habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, overhunting and poaching.
Unfortunately, this decline has occurred with little fanfare or public attention. “For comparison’s sake, while there are warnings and alarm bells ringing about the imminent extinction of the African elephant as a result of the poaching crisis—a situation not in any way to be minimized—there are an estimated 450,000 African elephants compared to 80,000 giraffe,” says Kathleen Garrigan, senior communications officer for the African Wildlife Foundation.
Surprisingly, even scientists haven’t given much attention to giraffes until the past five or so years. “We’re learning a lot more about their ecology but what we know is still way behind what we know about other species,” says David O’Connor, research coordinator with the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. Indeed, a Google Scholar search found fewer than 70 papers about giraffes published so far this decade, compared to 160 for the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).
giraffe subspecies distribution.
Although several organizations have committed work toward protecting giraffes, conservation efforts, as a whole, have lagged behind. Even the GCF, which works throughout the species’s range, did not have any full-time employees until this year.
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