KENYA (CNN) – A familiar fixture on the African savanna, giraffes are now said to be facing possible extinction.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has moved the giraffe to its ‘red list’ of endangered species.
A trip to Nairobi can bring you face to face with one of Africa’s iconic creatures – the giraffe.
Here at the giraffe center, these giraffes are raised in a controlled environment where tourists, school kids and adults can learn more about them at close quarters.
But scientists have found what they’re calling a “devastating” trend.
Giraffe populations have decreased almost 40 percent in the last 30 years leading the International Union for
Conservation of Nature to classify them as “under threat” of extinction.
Animals, which are so big, so visible and yet their decline until now has gone largely unnoticed.
Emmanuel Njumbi, African Fund for Endangered Wildlife said, “We focus so much on the big species like elephants, sometimes rhinos, sometimes the lions and we forget about these tall gentle giants of African savannah.”
A drive through Nairobi National Park hints at one reason on the horizon.
Africa’s urban landscape is changing fast and eating up more of what used to be the giraffe’s habitat.
All over the continent, cities are growing to cope with increasing numbers of people, and the giraffes are running out of grazing space.
Paul Gathitu, Kenya Wildlife Service said, “Part of our planning should put into account that we do have actually wildlife and wildlife that requires big spaces and requires specific habitats so in the planning is where we are calling for the planners to include wildlife as one of the land uses.”
Saving giraffes will not be a simple task.
Conflict, habitat degradation, poaching and hunting for bush meat have all contributed to the decline in giraffe numbers, according to the scientists who have placed giraffes on the red list of endangered species.
An ancient fable has it that a long time ago, the giraffes were the soothsayers, they could lift their heads to the clouds look back and see the past; look forward, and see the future.
But one thing no-one, not even the giraffes could have predicted is that by 2016 their numbers could have dropped and they could be facing what the conservationists are now calling a ‘silent extinction.’