Giraffe used to live across much of Africa. They appear throughout history, in most sub-Saharan African cultural traditions, in Egyptian hieroglyphs, Greek and Roman writings, Chinese art, and more. They became popular as high-status pets and were often gifted from one royal to another across Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Many people do not don’t realise that giraffes are threatened. Giraffes are classified by IUCN’s Red List as vulnerable of extinction. Across Africa giraffe are in decline, and some are in serious risk of extinction. Unfortunately, the fate of these giants has largely gone unnoticed. From 2010 to 2016, their IUCN Red List status changed from “least concern” to “vulnerable”, with many biologists and conservationists pushing to place them in the “endangered” category (and some subspecies are considered “endangered” with populations in the hundreds).
The question is, why the sudden drop in numbers? Giraffes have always been hunted in Africa, for meat, skins, and traditional medicines. When Europeans started colonising Africa, they hunted giraffes for sport. Habitat loss is another pressing issue. Habitat loss is s not unique to Giraffe, but to many species worldwide. Cities and towns are expanding and the demand for land for farming is growing. This means wildlife areas are shrinking, and the many animals that call it home – including giraffes – are losing space and numbers.
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) in Namibia, is the only NGO in the world concentrating solely on the conservation and management of giraffe throughout Africa. GCF is conducting a long-term giraffe conservation programme in north-western Namibia. They have been studying a giraffe population of approx. 350 individuals on-and-off for almost two decades now.
There are four distinct species of giraffe in Africa – Masai, Southern, Northern and Reticulated giraffe, with several subspecies. All four giraffe species and their subspecies live in geographically distinct areas throughout Africa.
You can support GCF’s research by adopting a giraffe. Please remember that your adoption is symbolic and that the giraffe you are ‘adopting’ are living wild and free.