The giraffe are currently heading towards extinction, with populations having fallen by nearly 40% over the last 30 years, from approximately 160,000 in 1985 to about 97,500 in 2015 due to widespread habitat loss, poaching for bushmeat and trophy hunting.
Last year, the IUCN Red List classification for the giraffe changed from ‘least concern’, skipped ‘near threatened’ status and moved to ‘vulnerable’. Currently, only 1 species of giraffe is recognised, along with 9 subspecies. However, mounting evidence has shown that there are in fact 4 different species of giraffe: the southern, the Maasai, the reticulated and the northern giraffe. It was revealed that they are genetically disparate and none of these species can interbreed in the wild. If IUCN classifies them as such, 3 out of 4 of these species would be given a graver conservation status.
They are but one of many species that are undergoing a decline, and a very stark reminder that the world is undergoing a global extinction crisis: the worst the world has seen in about 65 million years.