In our January spotlight we focus on the status of the iconic Giraffe – tall, graceful and under significant threat
We all look at the giraffe as being peaceful, graceful, and enormously tall. I ask myself, why is this creature endangered and what are we doing about it? A few reasons the giraffe is endangered is due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and poaching. The number of humans has increased and are taking up more and more space. Many animals, giraffes being one of them, are losing their homes from human invasion. Another reason giraffes were added to the IUCN red list is due to fragmentation of land. Land is being used for agriculture and other purposes and aids in the declination of land for giraffes to roam free on and out of harm’s way. Less land also draws them closer to predatory areas. Another reason for the decrease in the giraffe population is due to poaching. Some areas in Africa believe the giraffe’s brain and bone marrow can cure HIV. Giraffes also have thick, strong hide that is used for a number of different purposes from clothes to jewelry to bags.
“The Giraffe Conservation Foundation raises awareness locally, by providing information and education material, working with partners in governments or the NGO sector” (abc news). Although, more still needs to be done in order to protect this creature from extinction because there will always be people who will hunt illegally. More security and patrols need to be in place because illegal hunting will continue for all animals, but especially for the giraffe due to widespread information about its abilities to cure HIV.
Giraffes are vital to the ecosystem because of their tall necks that give them the ability to reach high up in the trees to eat leaves and fruits. This eliminates competition for food with other smaller animals that cannot reach to those heights. The only other animal that can reach as high as a giraffe is an elephant, but there are a lot of smaller animals than taller animals. Oxpecker birds and giraffes do each other a favor. Oxpeckers prey on the ticks that feast on the giraffe’s blood. This is another reason why giraffes are vital to the ecosystem. Also, other prey stay nearby the giraffe because it can spot predators like lions, cheetahs, and hyenas from far distances. The giraffe don’t have many predators who try to take them down because they are so large in size and have strong, powerful hooves to boot. Unfortunately, their young can still pose as meals to larger predators, or group hunters. Even though, by no means, is a baby giraffe small but it is an easier target than an adult giraffe.
Now you know why they are endangered, what’s being done to protect them, and how critical of a role they play in the ecosystem? Now you need to do your part and spread the news to anyone and everyone. It is important for everyone to do their part in saving wildlife. No matter how small the deed, it will not go unnoticed! Help save the creature that saves other animals by being so abnormally tall!
Contributed by Nikela Volunteer Elizabeth Howells