List Giraffes as Critically Endangered on IUCN Red List

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The purpose of this petition is to achieve a higher threat rating on the IUCN list, from vulnerable to critically endangered for the Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis; Linnaeus, 1758).The gentle giants of the African Savannas, giraffes are the tallest mammals in the world according to National Geographic, with their legs getting as long as 6-feet, as tall as some humans. Their long legs allow giraffes to be able to run up to 35 miles per hour over short distances and gallop at 10 miles an hour over longer distances (National Geographic). Not only does the giraffe have a long neck (also averaging at 6 foot), but it also weighs in at about 600 pounds (272 kilograms) (San Diego Zoo). Genetic evidence, collaring, and further research; undertaken by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, spearheaded by Dr. Julian Fennessy, and their partners, has attested that Giraffes, originally considered to be just one species; with multiple subspecies, actually contain four genetically different species. One species, the West African Giraffe numbers at only 550 in the wild! Classifying giraffes as critically endangered will serve to protect the species that have seen the most drastic declines; and further conserve giraffes as a whole regardless of species.

The population of the giraffe, with all species and subspecies included, are estimated to be experiencing a 36%-40% decline. The numbers of giraffes, as recorded in 1985, were 151,702- 163,452, and they have plummeted all the way down down to 97,562 (IUCN, Species Survival Commission [SSC], Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group [GOSG]2015), which is approximately a 40% decline in just three generations! There are some species of Giraffe that are at a higher rate of decline than others, particularly because, due to the new research undertaken by Dr. Fennessey, it has been found that the separate species of giraffe, in the wild, do not mate or interbreed with one another; and so, each species is experiencing its own rapid decline. Some species have seen a decrease in numbers all the way down to 550 individuals in the wild (GCF). All giraffes contribute to Africa’s ecological benefit, through his research Dr. Fennessy has found, that they are vital pollinators and seed spreaders, through dung. The loss of the giraffe would drastically change Africa’s landscape for the worse (British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC]). Natural fauna that other species consume to live could potentially go extinct which could have catastrophic effects on Africa's ecosystems.

Giraffes as a whole, need to be labeled as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. If they are labeled as critically endangered instead of their current standing of vulnerable, not only will there be stricter punishments for poachers and bush meat consumers, but the selling and trading of their body parts (such as their tails and bones) will be made illegal in countries that participate with the IUCN. Also, an endangered listing will increase the research funding available to study the giraffe in its natural habitat allowing scientist to further focus on repopulating the giraffes, in said habitats. Furthermore, the updated listing, will boost eco-tourism for the national parks that preserve the giraffe. An endangered listing may also lead to garnering more land to conserve, therefore saving habitats and also encouraging population growth by protecting cows and their calves.

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