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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN), the global authority on the conservation status of wild animals and plants, lists five of the nine sub-species of giraffes as ‘vulnerable’. However, there are currently more elephants on the continent of Africa than there are giraffes.

In July 2019 the ICUN announced that the Masai giraffe (found throughout Kenya and Tanzania) is now endangered. Two of the other giraffe sub-species, the Nubian and Kordofan giraffe are already critically endangered, alongside the endangered reticulated giraffe.

The Masai giraffe is one of the largest and most iconic subspecies of giraffes, with a previous population of 71,000. Over the last 30 years their population has decreased by nearly 50% to an estimated 35,000 animals. Africa’s overall population has decreased between 40-50% over that same timeframe. 

Habitat loss is also a huge concern. As humans move further into wild areas, giraffe-human encounters and conflict are more likely to occur. Vehicle collision, poaching of animals that wander into human settlements, and hunting for bushmeat are all threats.

There are currently no regulations on the buying and selling of giraffe parts. Many African nations are expected to push for further protection for giraffes worldwide. The United States is also planning to conduct a review into whether giraffes should be added to the U.S. endangered species list. If added, it would be illegal to import giraffe parts into the country and conservation programmes would be eligible for federal funding.

 Now that the Masai Giraffe has been identified as endangered, hopefully we will be able to save them before it’s too late and the earth loses another of its most iconic creatures.