By Dominick Mezzapesa - Wildlife Planet News
Populations of the world's tallest land and aome say strangest creatures on Earth, fell to about 98,000 from an estimated 152,000-163,000 in 1985, according to the list compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Girraffes dwindeling numbers, by as much as 40% since the 1980's, are a direct result of theexpansion of farmland to feed a rising human population and from killings for their meat
The Red List rated the giraffe "vulnerable" to extinction, where previously they were rated as "least concern." It said the plunge in numbers in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa had gone largely unnoticed.
"Whilst giraffes are commonly seen on safari, in the media and in zoos, people — including conservationists — are unaware that these majestic animals are undergoing a silent extinction," Julian Fennessy, an IUCN giraffe specialist, said in a statement.
Giraffes have not recieved the same attention to their plight as others at Risk. While focusing on Elephants and Rhinos the Giraffe have slowly been dissapeering from the African plains over the past few decades.
"People are competing for fewer and fewer resources and the animals are worse off ... especially with civil strife," Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the Red List, told Reuters. Drought and climate change are aggravating factors, he said.
The Red List, the main global authority on risks to animals and plants, said 24,307 of 85,604 species assessed in recent decades were in danger of extinction.
U.N. studies say that man-made threats, led by the loss of natural habitats, may herald the worst extinction crisis since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago.