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Researchers classify Rothschild’s giraffe as endangered

With less than 670 Rothschild’s giraffes surviving in the wild, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List has listed the subspecies as ‘Endangered’. Surviving in Kenya and Uganda, Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) is hanging on in small isolated populations usually in protected areas where populations are already at a maximum.

“[We] hope this will highlight to the world the critical state its tallest creature is in,” giraffe-expert and conservationist, Julian Fennessey said in a statement. “As the second giraffe sub-species (of 9 known) to now be listed as endangered, we all have our work cut out to form sound conservation strategies to improve the situation in the short, medium and long term. The whole thrust of our work here is to put strategies in place BEFORE it is too late—extinction is simply not an option.”

Only the West African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta) is in worse shape than Rothschild’s. With active conservation work, this subspecies has gone from some 100 individuals to 220 today, but is still in grave danger of disappearing. There are no West African giraffes surviving in captivity.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), the world’s only conservation organization devoted to giraffes, has worked with stabilizing the West African giraffe population and is now focusing on Rothschild’s.

This spring researchers announced the Rothschild’s Giraffe Project to study the subspecies, which will comprise the first full study of Rothschild’s giraffe. In addition, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has started up a National Giraffe Conservation Strategy, the first program of its kind to protect one of the world’s most recognizable animals.

Mammals throughout Africa are in decline. A recent study found that even in protected areas, mammal populations have dropped by approximately 60 percent in 35 years.

A lone male Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi). Photo by: Zoe Muller.

Male Rothschild’s ‘necking’. Photo by: Zoe Muller.

A herd of male Rothschild’s giraffes on the move. Photo by: Zoe Muller.

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