(WILDLIFE) AFRICA– Fewer than 670 Rothschild giraffes now live in the wild in Kenya and Uganda– a lower population than endangered African elephants. Now the giraffe’s perilous state is officially recognized by being added to the red list of critically endangered species. – Global Animal
The Guardian, Adam Vaughn
Driven from its wide-ranging west African habitats, the Rothschild giraffe is clearly in peril. Now, its plight has been officially recognised. The world’s largest environment network, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, has added it to its red list of endangered species.
Named after the banker and zoologist Walter Rothschild who first described it, the species joins the West African giraffe on the list, making it the second most threatened of the nine giraffe sub-species.
Fewer than 670 Rothschild giraffes now live in the wild, in isolated populations. Some 40% live in national parks and private land in Kenya and the remaining 60% in Uganda.
While giraffes overall are ranked of “least concern” by the IUCN, partly due to a lack of data, there are far fewer Rothschild giraffes remaining than there are endangered African elephants. Conservationists say farming developments are largely to blame for the animal’s decline.
Dr Julian Fennessy, co-founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and one of the researchers whose analysis led to the species being added to the list, said: “I am delighted and of course saddened at the same time that the Rothschild giraffe has finally made the IUCN red list status.
“We have been striving for this for a while now and hope this will highlight to the world the critical state its tallest creature is in.”
Isolation of the species’ remaining populations and a lack of understanding about how it lives and feeds are hampering efforts to restore its numbers.
The Rothschild’s Giraffe project, launched in the spring and supported by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, hopes to gather more information about the giraffe’s habitats and habits in order to put conservation plans in place.