By Sebastian Hanson, Youth Manager
Known for their peculiar appearance, Giraffes are the tallest land-based mammals and don orange and brown splotches on their fur. They stand around fourteen to nineteen feet tall and typically weigh about 1,800 pounds (female) and 2,600 (male). Always seen as a funky animal showcased at the zoo, the Giraffe has been facing survival struggles in recent times. Their population has declined by forty percent over the past thirty years and continues to face the threat of extinction today.
Many Giraffes live in the protected state parks of Central Africa. They travel in packs and share a communal lifestyle, migrating together around vast savannas and grasslands. In the open woodlands they live in, these vagabond mammals feast upon the trees which dot their habitat. They are herbivores, so they only eat plant matter. Giraffes on average eat around 65 pounds of food a day! They are also ruminants, meaning that they almost constantly chew their food when not eating.
Why they are important: While most larger herbivores in the ecosystems shared by Giraffes eat trees, Giraffes can reach the heights of trees. Doing this grooms trees and allows tree seeds to spread through Giraffe droppings. They also notify other animals in the area whether predators are afoot.
Why they are going extinct: Giraffes are common targets for poachers to hunt down to sell highly valuable skins and tails. Their human neighbors also covet Giraffe tails and use them to make items like good-luck bracelets. Habitat loss is also a significant factor, with cities and towns approaching their land.
How we can help:
1. Raise awareness! Many are not aware of the plight of the giraffe due to the common idea that they are already protected because they get attention in zoos. You can even celebrate World Giraffe Day every June 21st!
- Donate! Support organizations such African Wildlife Foundation and Giraffe Conservation Foundation that make active efforts to combat poaching activities in Africa, maintain protected parks housing Giraffes, and educate local communities about how to co-exist with these gentle giants.
Want more of The Endangered? Check out the growing list of articles on our Wildlife page.