African markets could be affected by giraffe decline
Giraffes could disappear from the planet if numbers continue to decline, it has been warned.
Numbers have declined by 40% since the 1980s in a "silent extinction" driven by illegal hunting and an expansion in farmland in Africa, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said. It added that drought and climate change are aggravating factors.
In their latest global Red List of threatened species, the world's tallest land mammal has been rated as "vulnerable" to extinction based on recent trends for the first time. The IUCN said the plunge in numbers in large parts of sub-Saharan Africa had gone largely unnoticed.
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. The African gray parrot - known for its skill in mimicking human speech - was rated endangered, one step worse than its earlier category as vulnerable. The worsening plight of the animal was blamed on trapping for the pet trade.
The IUCN said 860 plant and animal species are now extinct as it classed nearly 13,000 as endangered or critically endangered. The next level is vulnerable, where giraffes are now placed, followed by near threatened and least concerned.
More than 700 newly recognised bird species were also assessed for the Red List, with more than one in 10 found to be at risk of dying out.
The list also found that 11% of more than 700 other species of bird newly assessed were at risk of extinction.
Giraffe numbers have declined from around 151,702 to 163,452 animals in 1985 to 97,562 individuals in 2015, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said.