A major giraffe species has been declared endangered by scientific experts.
Masai giraffes, in Kenya and Tanzania, had previously been considered a stronghold population for the species. According to an assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, their numbers have fallen by an estimated 49 percent to 51 percent in the past 30 years.
In addition, Africa's overall giraffe population has declined by up to 40 percent over the past 30 years. Land use, as well as hunting, have been cited as factors.
"Masai giraffes have long had a robust wild population. An endangered assessment is an eye-opener that signals the critical need for giraffe protections," said Adam Peyman, Wildlife Programs and Operations manager for Humane Society International.
"This shocking news about Masai giraffes is a call to action from prominent scientists," added Tanya Sanerib, International Legal Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
"The international community needs to give giraffes the protection from exploitation that they so desperately need. We have to regulate the international giraffe trade or risk losing one of our planet’s most remarkable animals."