Giraffes are one of the most iconic species on our planet, being the tallest land animal. Giraffes are now under major threat in the wild due to various reasons listed in the section below.
Across Africa, there were an estimated 155,000 giraffes in the 1980s. There are now only around 111,000 left, a massive drop by around 30% in less than 40 years. They have already gone extinct in several African countries.
Few people know that there are actually 4 different species of giraffe and five subspecies. Some subspecies are actually now considered as critically endangered. The West African giraffe subspecies has fewer than 600 individuals remaining in the wild.
Habitat loss (for farming, urban development and timber harvesting).
Poaching of body parts (used for hunting trophies and accessories, predominantly in the U.S. and Europe).
Hunting for giraffe meat.
War and civil unrest.
Human-giraffe conflict (resulting from giraffes eating farmer's crops).
Collisions with cars and trains.
Entrapment in electrical cables.
Disease (can occur from sharing habitat with domestic livestock).
Oil and gas exploration.
Population isolation (a by-product of habitat loss, where giraffes are isolated from the wider population making it harder for giraffes to reproduce).
To find out in more detail about these threats, go the GCF's page here.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Giraffes face somewhat a lack of conservation support. Conservation efforts in Africa are often focused around lions and elephants, despite giraffe numbers plummeting well below these two other iconic species. This is why the term 'the silent extinction' has been used to describe what is happening to wild giraffes. Below, we've come up with ways in which we can turn this around:
The first and most obvious is to donate to conservation efforts. This is the best thing you can do to help secure a future for giraffes. The threats they face can be complicated issues and there are plenty of organisations carrying out brilliant work to unravel these problems. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the organisations which we recommend.
TOP TIP: You could take direct action for giraffe conservation, from the comfort of your own home, by volunteering some of your time to Wildwatch Kenya! You'll review photos on your computer which are taken by cameras placed within nature preserves in Kenya. You simply need to identify the animals in the photos with the help of guidance on their website. In doing so this helps researchers to better understand more about the giraffe, giving more knowledge of what must be done to protect them. This is a brilliant way to directly help in giraffe conservation and there is a simple step-by-step tutorial to help you do so.
Signing a petition is another great way to bring about positive change. Scroll down to the next section to find online petitions, which we recommend signing to help protect giraffes.
Severe drought periods are threatening giraffes as they cause a scarcity of food. Whilst drought is common across the African continent, research shows that the problem is becoming bigger due to global warming. Take a look at our page on climate change to find out ways in which our individual actions can prevent this.
Perhaps the most exciting way to help is to travel to an African country to see giraffes in the wild. Tourism plays an important part of the economy in many African countries and safaris are one of the biggest reasons why. Going on a safari is a great way of letting the government of that country know that protecting its wildlife is important. It's also a great way to learn more about wildlife conservation. Just make sure to avoid elephant ride safaris, as these fuel cruel practices and have a negative effect on wild elephant populations.
If travelling to Africa doesn't appeal, or isn't a realistic option for you, then many places around the world keep giraffes in captivity. It's important to know that although it's exciting to see wild animals up close, their well-being in a cage is certainly questionable. If you really want to see a giraffe in captivity then our guidance would be that with that desire to see one, you also have the desire to learn more about how we can protect them in the wild. Using advice from this page, or that you learn elsewhere, we encourage you to take some action to protect wild giraffes. If you want to visit a giraffe in captivity then we recommend that you do your research beforehand and choose somewhere that is supporting giraffe conservation with its profits.
Our founder, Chad Killoran, has a website selling prints of his paintings. If you're interested you could buy a print of his giraffe painting, shown below, and a percentage of the profit goes towards the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
Trophy hunting poses a big threat to wild giraffes. It is still legal to carry out in many countries and it is also still legal to import trophies into many countries. This practice is more popular with people from the U.S. and European countries. Discouraging others to take part in this cruel practice is a great way to help. If you live in a country where it is legal to trophy hunt or import trophies of wild animals then writing to your local member of parliament or starting your own petition are both good ways in which to create positive change. If you scroll down to the 'petitions' section below there are also some petitions around this matter you could sign and share.
Education is another great way to help. The GCF has put together some brilliant giraffe educational resources to help raise awareness for the plight of the giraffe.
Another way to help is to shop for products which support giraffe conservation. The GCF has an online shop in the U.S. selling t-shirts, hoodies, hats, jewellery and photography prints.
If you shop with Amazon then you could use AmazonSmile. It's the same as Amazon only when you shop they donate a percentage of the profit to a charity you choose, at no extra cost to you! If you're based in the United Kingdom, you could go to the UK site and select the WWF UK as your chosen charity. If you're based in the USA then click here if you want to choose Save Giraffes Now as your chosen charity.
One of the best ways to help is to spread the word about this page and what you've learnt about the challenges facing giraffes. Awareness is the first step towards solving any problem!
Signing the following petitions is a great way to bring about positive change for wild giraffes:
Friend of the Earth's petition is calling upon the U.S. and European governments to ban the giraffe trade. After signing you'll need to quickly confirm by email for your signature to be valid.
Care2's petition is asking for a ban on the sale of giraffe products.
Rainforest Rescue's petition is calling on the Tanzanian government to stop its plans to clear 1,500 km2 (an area the size of London) for logging to make way for a hydroelectric dam in the Selous Game Reserve, home to a variety of species including the endangered Masai giraffe.
Alicia Graef's petition is appealing to the U.S. government to list giraffes as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, in order to help ban the import of trophies and body parts for products.
Care2's petition is requesting the government leaders of Nigeria, Malawi, and Senegal to implement programs to save their giraffes from poaching and habitat loss.
Born Free's petition is urging countries to close down the legal practice of trophy hunting and asking for countries to stop allowing the importation of trophies from threatened species.
Whilst there are plenty of organisations out there that work to conserve varied species across Africa, we have just listed those that focus solely on giraffes below. As giraffe habitat covers large areas of Africa, conservation of giraffes in turn also helps to conserve many other species.
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation is dedicated to a sustainable future for all giraffe populations in the wild. They concentrate solely on the conservation and management of giraffes in the wild throughout Africa.
Save Giraffes Now is on a mission is to save giraffes from extinction so they can live freely and safely in their native Africa.
The Kordofan Giraffe Project is specifically carrying out the first census of giraffe in The Republic of Chad. This is essential work to ensure the future of the critically endangered Kordofan giraffe subspecies which has less than 2,000 individuals remaining. This project is also supported by the GCF.
If you know of any more ways in which we can create a better future for giraffes, or other conservation organisations you think we should highlight, then please get in contact with your suggestions!