A world without Giraffes

Fatima Alarcon, Writer

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Remember those warm summer days? The days when the sun beat too hard, days when all you could go for was a nice, cold cone of ice cream, these are the days when it seemed most ideal to take a trip to the zoo. The zoo is tied to almost any persons childhood memories, and along with it is the magnificent long-necked giraffe. But did you know that a world in which this 16-foot animal no longer exists is a concept that has now been deemed more plausible within our ecosystem? According to the International Union for conservation of nature (IUCN) giraffes have gone from 155,000 in 1985 to 97,000 in 2015. Moving them from the list of “least concern” to now “vulnerable to extinction”. Well, actually not all giraffes. If you were to visit South Africa you would see the Giraffes thriving, whereas if you were to travel to Eastern Africa you would notice a drastic decrease in the amount of Giraffes. In fact, the population itself has plummeted by 95% in just three decades. As a foundational block within the African wildlife, it is almost impossible to imagine what would happen if Giraffes were to disappear.

What could possibly be causing the demise of these gentle giants? It is quite hard to pinpoint it back to one major cause, in fact, it’s due to numerous lesser impacts. One of the reasons why the giraffes are dying off within eastern Africa is due to the impoverished, war-torn countries themselves, including Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. In these areas when money is rare to come by, food is even rarer, so in most cases, people hunt to stay alive, unfortunately, Giraffes are usually the hunted. In fact, it is believed within Tanzania that Giraffe brains and bone marrow can cure HIV-AIDS sufferers. Not only is the endangerment of giraffes fueled by crazy superstitions but also by the general increase of the human population within these countries. It has lead to land being taken away from the Giraffes which they are then used for agriculture. Giraffes are left poached and lost in a strange environment usually unable to properly support the basic necessities of their species.

Although most of the Eastern giraffes will most likely die off at the same rate, there is still hope for the long-term survival of the species as a whole in the future. Clearly, the conflict of the giraffe’s survival is regional as they seem to be prospering within southern Africa but suffering within Eastern Africa. When considering possible solutions to this small-scale epidemic all one has to do is look at Southern Africa. There has been an increase in “game parks” in South Africa that hold them as tourist attractions and properly preserve the species. With even more attention called to this epidemic, it would prove beneficial as it could increase awareness and tourists to help bring in more money to the African countries which would be more influenced to preserve the species themselves. 

There may not be any short-term cure for the endangerment of these African Giraffes, but you can help raise awareness of this issue that most people don’t seem to be aware of. And although the future for the East African population of giraffes may look bleak there is still hope in the species as a whole.