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, biologists say.
 
Because the giraffe population has shrunk nearly 40 percent in just 30 years, scientists put it on the official watch list of threatened and endangered species worldwide, calling it "vulnerable." That's two steps up the danger ladder from its previous designation of being 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, 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?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (13)
  • ialexis-dav
    12/25/2016 - 11:28 a.m.


    In response to "Giraffes are now rarer then Elephants," I agree that shrinking living space is part of the reason giraffes are going extinct. One reason I agree is that it states in the article,"People are moving into giraffe areas especially in central and eastern Africa. Another reason is that illegal hunting and trapping these animals has worsened the amount of giraffes left in the wild, as well as disease. It says in the article,"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." This means that giraffes are more likely to go extinct then elephants. A third reason is that wild giraffes are gone in seven countries in Africa. With increased risk of extinction, they have shrunk more do to the fact they are gone from seven different countries. Even though most people would say elephants are more endangered then giraffes, I think that we need to protect ALL wildlife today, and in the future,and cherish them no matter what.

  • jacob13-war
    1/04/2017 - 12:34 p.m.

    Giraffes are so familiar because that's one of the main animals most people will go to see in the zoo. Nobody would expect such a popular animal to go extinct.

  • madilyn-dav
    1/05/2017 - 08:29 p.m.

    In response to "Giraffes Now Rarer than Elephants," I agree that people should start paying more attention to giraffes. One reason I agree is that giraffes are "vulnerable." They are very close to being endangered. Another reason is that giraffes are becoming silently extinct. It says in the article "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." A third reason is because people are moving into the areas where giraffes usually run freely. The article states that "Fennessy blamed shrinking living space as the main culprit in the declining giraffe population. People are moving into giraffe areas especially in central and eastern Africa." Even though there are many other endangered species in the world, I think that everyone should start paying more attention to giraffes and try to keep them from going extinct.

  • zlily-dav
    1/05/2017 - 11:07 p.m.

    In response to "Giraffes now rarer than elephants," I found this article interesting for three reasons. First, I was not aware that giraffes are becoming extinct. The article mentions that people assume that since giraffes are living in zoos that they are OK. For example, the text states, “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.” Until I read this article, I was one of those people. Second, I found it interesting that biologists haven’t done a good job counting and classifying giraffes. The text says, “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.” I was surprised by this since I would think that accuracy when it comes to extinction would be a high priority for people in this profession. It is almost unforgivable that mistakes are being made when it comes to assessing whether or not animals are endangered. Finally, I was happy to learn that some plants and animals are actually starting to thrive again. The article says, “But there is also good news for some species.” This is a good sign that when people are aware, we can make changes that will positively impact the future of our planet. Even though the outlook for giraffes is bad at the moment, I think we can work together to make the necessary changes to save these animals.

  • annakatew-bur
    1/06/2017 - 01:04 p.m.

    What makes giraffes seem familiar is that we see them and zoo's and other things like that. I can relate because I wouldn't think of giraffes as being extinct because most extinct or endangered species are animals that most people haven't even heard of.

  • jackiek-orv
    1/10/2017 - 02:43 p.m.

    I'd hate to see giraffes go extinct I love them. How could they be going extinct so fast 163,000 to 97,562, that means 65,438 died thats a lot.

  • emilyc1-dav
    1/19/2017 - 10:30 p.m.

    I am responding to the article named "Giraffes Now Rarer Than Elephants", and I agree with the idea that giraffes are diminishing due to becoming increasingly more vulnerable. One reason I agree they are more vulnerable is evidence showing that humans are moving into giraffe areas, diminishing their habitat, and leaving less room for the giraffes to roam and feed and drink. An additional reason they are more vulnerable is that poachers are hunting giraffe populations. And a third reason that giraffes appear to be increasingly vulnerable is a growing problem with disease. Even though, as the article mentions, giraffes are going through a "silent extinction" as we keep a closer eye on other animals such as elephants, I can understand the vulnerabilities that giraffes face and I now know that their future as a species is threatened.

  • madelync-
    2/02/2017 - 09:10 a.m.

    Giraffes seem so familiar because of how tall they are. When you go to the zoo it's a very popular animal that people want to see since it is the tallest land animal.

  • arianam-
    2/02/2017 - 09:12 a.m.

    "What makes giraffes seem familiar?" I don't really know exactly what this means. Giraffes seem familiar because we see them all the time at zoos and on tv shows.

  • brandons33446-
    2/03/2017 - 08:43 a.m.

    Giraffes seem familiar to me because they are one of the last animals you would think that would go extinct. Also, giraffes seem to be very common in zoos and on wild life reserves so it is very strange that they could go extincted.

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