Target: Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete
Goal: Protect giraffes from poaching, overhunting and loss of habitat
Africa’s giraffes are silently disappearing and few countries have policies in place to help slow their quiet extinction. According to estimates from the Giraffe Conservation Research group, there are now only 80,000 giraffes in Africa, compared to 140,000 in 1999. This steady decline has continued largely out of the public eye, minimizing the pressure put on African governments to implement protective policies. It’s time to end that silence and bring this decline into view before it’s too late.
The main media focus has been directed at the equally worthy causes of protecting rhinoceroses and elephants, but has managed largely to overlook the decimation of giraffe populations. Due to habitat loss, overhunting and poaching, the future of giraffes is looking increasingly bleak. The animals are killed for their thick skin and meat—mistakenly believed in certain parts of the world to cure AIDS—and left homeless from habitat encroachment by humans.
In fact, there are fewer giraffes in the world than elephants—which is not to say that elephants do not deserve continued and intense conservation efforts. There are currently around 450,000 African elephants and only 80,000 giraffes. The entire species is listed as one of “least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List (IUCN), though two subspecies are listed as “endangered.” The IUCN Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group is collecting data in an effort to reclassify many giraffe subspecies and garner support for their conservation, but gathering that kind of information is no small task and can take time—time giraffe populations cannot afford.
In the meantime, African countries need to take it upon themselves to ensure the species’ survival by implementing policies to protect these threatened animals. Niger has already proven just how effective these policies can be, raising its giraffe populations from around 50 in the mid-1990s to a steadily increasing 400 in 2014. While all African countries with giraffe populations need to begin to protect them, Tanzania has seen some of the worst poaching and hunting in the continent and its giraffe population is falling fast. Without protection, these iconic giants are in real danger of extinction.
Sign this petition to urge the Tanzanian government to implement policies to protect this threatened species.
Dear President Kikwete,
Giraffe populations are in rapid decline across Africa, and without protections, they face the very real possibility of extinction. Habitat loss, overhunting and rampant poaching all greatly threaten this iconic species, and without protective policies this will remain the case until they no longer roam the great African plains at all.
Policies in Niger to protect giraffe populations have proven wildly successful, with eight times as many giraffes in the country in 2014 as there were two decades earlier. It is time for Tanzania to act to save this important species from extinction.
I urge you to implement policies to protect the Tanzanian giraffe immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons