Giraffe population up in Nam but down elsewhere in Africa

14 Dec 2016 15:30pm
By Lydia Pitiri
WINDHOEK, 14 DEC (NAMPA) – The giraffe population of east, central and west Africa is decreasing significantly, but is however increasing in Namibia and the rest of southern Africa.
The latest update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released last week on the Red List of Threatened Species indicates that Africa lost almost 40 per cent of its giraffe population over the last three decades.
In an interview with Nampa this week, director and co-founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, Julian Fennessy said the decline is mostly caused by human population growth.
“As people have expanded across the continent, more land is needed for development which unfortunately results in less land for wildlife,” Fennessy said.
He added that habit loss had the greatest impact but most recently, poaching and illegal hunting in central and eastern Africa had led to the decrease in giraffe numbers.
Fennessy also said Namibia has been very successful in its conservation and management of giraffes, leading to the number of the animals doubling if not tripling over the last three decades.
Namibia houses over 12 000 giraffes of which most are Angolan giraffes, while over 100 are South African giraffes, according to Fennessy.
“It is really unlikely that this type of decline experienced elsewhere will happen in Namibia unless there is an international interest in giraffe bones and skins,” he noted.
He added that community conservation with support from Government and the private sector had done an amazing job as Namibia and South Africa combined houses 50 per cent of the world giraffe population.
Fennessy encouraged the highlighting of success stories from southern Africa, which is mostly based on proper legislation and policies, in the furtherance of the protection of the wild animals.
“We need to take this information to the governments of east and central Africa and tell them that we can develop good strategies and action plans to uphold giraffe populations. From there, we can look at good anti-poaching patrol and monitoring,” Fennessy suggested.
He said a little bit of cooperation among partners across Africa could make a positive difference in curbing the decimation of the African giraffe population.