Silent Extinction of Giraffes
Giraffes have long arching neck, and legs which can be as long as 6 feet, and they can run at a speed of 35 miles per hour. They need only 5 to 30 minutes of sleep per day and need very few sips of water. Despite being built ruggedly for survival, climate change and global warming have decreased their life-expectancy, along with a shortage of food, the threat of vehicular accidents, illegal poaching, emerging diseases, and natural disasters.
Silent Disappearance of Giraffes
There has been a rapid decrease in the population of giraffe, which a lot of people are unaware of. The process was called Silent Extinction. Over 3 decades, the population of giraffe fell by 40%. In 1985, there were 150,000 to 163,000 giraffes. Today, there remain 111,000 giraffes in the whole world. Groups of giraffe usually contained 20 to 30 animals per group, which has dropped to 6 to 7 giraffes per group.
Giraffes need 75 pounds of foliage but can survive on 15 pounds per day in extreme situations. They eat 93 different plant species. Deforestation and agriculture have caused many tall trees to disappear. Replacement of these trees take decades, and a large amount of food is taken away from them in this way. Taking about reproduction, the babies stay in the womb for 13 to 15 months, the calf falls from 6 feet. The fall is crucial to the birth process, as the calf takes its breath after the impact.
Climate Change and Giraffe
The weather patterns have been changing, including changes in rainfalls, temperatures, etc. These changes in patterns are also causing some plant species to die. And as we know, if a single element of the food chain is affected, the entire chain is impacted like a ripple effect. Naturally sub-Saharan and African ecosystems have been facing ecological imbalance, where a specific requirement goes unfulfilled, which is causing the extinction of some species, hence all species in the ecosystem are affected.
There also has been a loss of habitat in countries like Niger, where the collision of animals with vehicles have been seen. The loss of habitat can be attributed to increased farming, deforestation, booming charcoal industry, etc. A large portion of the habitat was also used up for manufacturing medicines, and timber production. The giraffe population has also been affected due to the civil wars happening in the African continent, which is endangering these animals even further. Wildlife poaching and trafficking are still very prevalent. But we want to eliminate all other reasons and find the largest cause of the decline, its international trade of giraffe and their parts. giraffe bones specifically are replacing the elephant-ivory in gun handles and knives. Their skins are used to make rugs, clothing, etc. Giraffes are also hunted for meat in some parts of the world.
Most of the giraffe species are in the endangered list, while 2 species are critically endangered, according to the list formed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In some parts of the USA, it is even legal to trade giraffes. The US government has not taken many steps n protecting these animals as they are not native to the USA.
Saving the Giraffes
There is a dire need for communities, not just local, but international to come together and set up rules and guidelines which will apply to all nations, especially where the population of Giraffes is dwindling. Involenemtn of locals in the process can help in the generation of jobs, can boost tourism, and improve their lives. There is a need to decide to never buy giraffe products, and support organization which actively protect this species. Hilton Taylor added that we still have time to save the species. Some parts of Africa have seen an increase in the population of Giraffes which is a good sign.
Written by: Subhasri Banerjee
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