Giraffes put on extinction watch list

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported that giraffes are now at risk for extinction. In the past 30 years, the giraffe population has declined 40 percent. In 1985 there were over 150,000 giraffes -- in 2015 the number had dwindled to around 97,000 according to IUCN.

The union has listed giraffes as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. AP reports that this list is widely used by scientists as the official list of flora and fauna in danger of extinction.

See animals that could be extinct in less than 100 years

6 PHOTOS
Animals that face extinction by 2100
See Gallery
Animals that face extinction by 2100
Western lowland gorilla Kamba holds her one-day-old son Zachary at the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Illinois, United States, September 24, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young
A pair of black rhinoceros walk at the Imire Rhino and Wildlife Conservation Park near Marondera, east of Zimbabwe's capital Harare, September 22, 2014. Monday marked World Rhino Day amid dwindling populations of the species due to poaching activities. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT)
UNSPECIFIED - OCTOBER 28: African Wild Ass (Equus africanus) (Photo by DEA / F. PAGNI/De Agostini/Getty Images)
The Visayan warty pigs, Samar (front) and Panay run at their enclosure on January 11, 2013 at the Berlin zoo. The pigs, priginating from the Polish Poznan Zoo are named after two Philippine islands. Today, the endangered species live only on two islands. AFP PHOTO / MARC TIRL /GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read MARC TIRL/AFP/Getty Images)
Bali banteng (Bos javanicus), calf. Garig Ganuk Barlu National Park, Cobourg Peninsula, Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. (Photo by Auscape/UIG via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Scientists are blaming the massive decrease on habit loss. "Everyone assumes giraffes are everywhere," said Junlian Fennessy, co-director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Fennessy, along with other co-chair Noelle Kumpel, call what's happening to giraffes "silent extinction."

Duke University conservation biologist, Stuart Pimm, agreed -- and has actually criticized the IUCN for not putting more animals on the Red List. "There's a strong tendency to think that familiar species (such as giraffes, chimps, etc.) must be OK because they are familiar and we see them in zoos," he said. This is, however, a scary misconception.

The giraffe was the only mammal whose status changed this year.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.