Giraffes now rarer than elephants A giraffe bends over to take food pellets from Kenyan visitors at the Giraffe Centre in Karen, on the outskirts of Nairobi, in Kenya Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Khaled Kazziha)
Giraffes now rarer than elephants
Lexile

The giraffe, the tallest land animal, is now at risk of extinction. That news has come from biologists.
 
The giraffe population has shrunk nearly 40 percent in just 30 years. So scientists put it on the official watch list of threatened and endangered species worldwide. The scientists have called the giraffe "vulnerable." That's two steps up the danger ladder from its previous designation. It was previously a species of least concern. In 1985, there were between 151,000 and 163,000 giraffes. But in 2015 the number was down to 97,562. That is according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
 
At a biodiversity meeting Dec. 7 in Mexico, the IUCN increased the threat level for 35 species. The organization lowered the threat level for seven species on its "Red List" of threatened species. Scientists consider it the official list of what animals and plants are in danger of disappearing.
 
The giraffe is the only mammal whose status changed on the list this year. Scientists blame habitat loss.
 
While everyone worries about elephants, Earth has four times as many pachyderms as giraffes. That is according to Julian Fennessy and Noelle Kumpel. They are co-chairs of the specialty group of biologists that put the giraffe on the IUCN Red List. They both called what's happening to giraffes a "silent extinction."
 
"Everyone assumes giraffes are everywhere," said Fennessy. He is the co-director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
 
But they're not, Fennessy said. Until recently, biologists hadn't done a good job assessing giraffes' numbers and where they can be found. The giraffes have been lumped into one broad species instead of nine separate subspecies.
 
"There's a strong tendency to think that familiar species (such as giraffes, chimps, etc.) must be OK because they are familiar and we see them in zoos," said Duke University conservation biologist Stuart Pimm. He wasn't part of the work. But he has criticized the IUCN for not putting enough species on the threat list. "This is dangerous."
 
Fennessy blamed shrinking living space as the main culprit in the declining giraffe population. It is worsened by poaching and disease. People are moving into giraffe areas especially in central and eastern Africa. Giraffe numbers are plunging most in central and eastern Africa. They are being offset by increases in southern Africa, he said.
 
This has fragmented giraffe populations. They have shrunk in size with wild giraffes gone from seven countries. The countries are Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Guinea, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal. This is according to Kumpel of the Zoological Society of London.
 
The IUCN says 860 plant and animal species are extinct. Another 68 are extinct in the wild. Nearly 13,000 are endangered or critically endangered. The next level is vulnerable. That is where giraffes were placed. The levels are followed by near threatened and least concerned.
 
The status of two snake species worsened. The ornate ground snake, which lives on the tiny island of Saint Lucia, deteriorated from endangered to critically endangered. The Lacepede's ground snake of Martinique, which was already critically endangered, is now considered possibly extinct, pending confirmation. So is the trondo mainty. It is a river fish in Madagascar.
 
But there is also good news for some species. The Victoria stonebasher, a freshwater fish in Africa, went from being considered endangered to least concerned with a stable population. And an African plant, the acmadenia candida, which was declared extinct, has been rediscovered. It is now considered endangered. Another freshwater fish, ptychochromoides itasy, which hadn't been seen since the 1960s, has been rediscovered in small numbers in Africa's Sakay River. It now is considered critically endangered.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes giraffes seem familiar?
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COMMENTS (117)
  • bjenna-dav
    1/06/2017 - 06:49 a.m.

    In response to "giraffes now rarer than elephants," I disagree that _everyone thinks elephants are everywhere. One reason I agree is that the giraffes are in danger for extinction. Another reason is that 13,000 are endangered. It says in the article that nearly 13,000 giraffes are endangered or critically endangered. A third reason is that the giraffe is the only model status that has changed. Even though not everyone thinks that giraffes are everywhere, I think
    _people should pay more attention to whats important about animals.

  • brookeb2-dav
    1/06/2017 - 07:09 a.m.

    In response to "Giraffes now rarer than Elephants ," I agree that everyone assumes that giraffes are everywhere. One reason I agree is that I had no idea that giraffes were even close to being extinct. I always thought that giraffes were all over Africa, and South America, etc.. Another reason is that you always here about elephants being extinct, but now Giraffes are more extinct that elephants. It says in the article "Fennessy blamed shrinking living space as the main culprit in the declining giraffe population. It is worsened by poaching and disease." If people are moving in to where the giraffes live, and they are poaching them, or if there is a disease spreading, the giraffes could die off because of these. A third reason is the giraffes have disappeared from 7 countries. Even though the people in these countries with giraffes think its okay to kill and poach them, I think it is definitely not ok because is people continue to do this, one day all the giraffes will be gone.

  • dharper-dav
    1/06/2017 - 08:02 a.m.


    In response to "Giraffes Now Rarer Than Elephants," I agree that they need to focus on saving girrafes as much as they do for elephants. One reason I agree is that giraffes are the cutest animals they should not be gone. Another reason is that there are so many zoos to fill with giraffes. It says in the article "They have shrunk in size with wild giraffes gone from seven countries." A third reason is every animal should be treated with care. Even though different animals are going extinct, I think that they should really be saved.

  • ashleyg-jon
    1/10/2017 - 03:34 a.m.

    Last time I went to a zoo I had only seen two giraffes,I really hope they stop being extinct!

  • henrys1-jon
    1/10/2017 - 03:35 a.m.

    I thought that it was a little odd that Seth Borenstein put snakes in a story about giraffes!
    I also liked how the author was very precise!

  • elliotb-jon
    1/10/2017 - 03:37 a.m.

    I like that the author named his sources but I think that the tittle wasn't fitting for the text.what I mean is that it only has one sentence about elephants being not as rare as girafes!!

  • zaneh-jon
    1/10/2017 - 03:37 a.m.

    I think that it was a bit off topic when the author talked about endangered snakes instead of talking more about giraffes.
    otherwise it was a very good article!

  • margauxm-jon
    1/10/2017 - 03:37 a.m.

    It is very sad that people think that giraffes are not extinct.
    This article is very important for people that liken animals.

  • ulyssea-jon
    1/10/2017 - 03:39 a.m.

    I though it was strange to talk about snakes in a artical of giraffes.

  • lucasd1-jon
    1/10/2017 - 03:41 a.m.

    It is very sad seeing giraffes in danger.I liked this article because there was many information I didn't know about giraffes.luycasd1-jon

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