The species with the second fewest animals is the Somali giraffe, found mainly in northern Kenya. Researchers estimate there are just under 16,000 of this species, almost double the 2015 estimate, but the increase is largely due to better data, not a significant increase, a Brown said.
Masai giraffes, found mainly in Tanzania and southern Kenya, are estimated to number around 45,000 animals. This is a 44% increase from seven years ago. The most common species, the southern giraffe, is found in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa, among other places. It is estimated that there are now 48,000, about the same number as in 2015.
There are still areas for which no good data is available, such as South Sudan. The fear is that the conflict in the region has increased the number of poachers. It is also not known how many animals live in Ethiopia and Somalia. Additionally, there are areas where giraffe numbers are declining, such as the northern giraffes in the Central African Republic or the southern giraffes in Zimbabwe.
a new hope
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) species status has not yet completed its evaluation of new giraffe genetic data and still considers the animals as a single species, listed as vulnerable, with nine subspecies.
Two subspecies of the northern giraffe are critically endangered, according to the IUCN, and two others, the Masai and Somali giraffe, are endangered. (Read also : Maasai giraffe declared an endangered species.)
Illegal hunting of animals for their flesh, skin, bones and tails remains a major problem in some areas. But researcher Jared Stabach of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute says it is particularly concerned about environmentally unfriendly developments in animal habitat, such as oil drilling and road building. “It keeps me up at night,” he says.
An example is the extension of the look for oil and gas around Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, threatening habitat fragmentation and degradation for a large population of critically endangered Northern Giraffes.
But in areas where governments, citizens, scientists and animal advocates have worked together to protect the world’s largest animal, populations are hoped to thrive.
“If the conditions are right for the giraffes, they can recover dramatically,” Brown said. “They just need to have that chance.”
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