GIRAFFE EXTINTION THREATS (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     7th November 2023        
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Context: A recent study (Global Change Biology) highlights the five biggest threats that could lead to the extinction of giraffes.

  • Giraffes are the world’s tallest mammals and an African icon, but they are also vulnerable to extinction.
  • Giraffe populations have declined by 40 per cent in the last 30 years, and there are now fewer than 70,000 mature individuals left in the wild.

Key Highlights of Study

  • The study used data from more than 3,100 giraffes identified over eight years in an unfenced 4,500km² area of the Tarangire ecosystem in Tanzania.
  • Giraffes need large areas of savanna with abundant native bushes and trees to feed on. 
  • The biggest threat to giraffes is the degradation, fragmentation and loss of their habitats through human activities such as farming and human settlement expansion.
  • Habitat loss outside protected areas is the main reason for the recent decline in giraffe numbers. 
  • Insufficient Law Enforcement: Another major threat to giraffes is illegal hunting (poaching) for bushmeat markets. This is usually controlled by international criminal syndicates.
  • Ecological changes: Giraffes are human-caused ecological changes that affect their food availability and mobility. 
  • These changes include deforestation of savannas for fuelwood and charcoal production, mining activity, and road and pipeline building.
  • Climate change: Climate change from human-caused carbon dioxide pollution is forecast to increase temperatures and rainfall in many African savanna areas.

Giraffes

  • Giraffes are exotic species to India and are conserved under captivity.
  • The British brought northern giraffes (Giraffa Camelopardalis) from their African colonies to India 150 years ago.
  • Now giraffes in India comprise a captive population of 29 giraffes in 11 zoos across the country.
  • A recent study at Kolkata Zoological Garden shows that these giraffes may belong to different varieties of species.

o Nubian giraffes -  IUCN status - Critically Endangered

o Rothschild giraffe - IUCN status - Endangered

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