Populations of giraffes Giraffa camelopardalis are declining in the wild, with some populations having suffered an 80% decline in the past ten years. In comparison to other large African mammals, giraffes have been largely overlooked in terms of research attention and conservation action. In recent years, the extent to which giraffe populations have declined across Africa has only just started to become apparent.
Currently (as of May 2016), giraffes are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, this listing does not reflect the true conservation status of giraffes in the wild, and is more a reflection of limited conservation focus on giraffes, and a lack of comprehensive status reviews. Of the nine currently recognised subspecies, two have been assessed at the subspecies level, and seven are currently unassessed. The two which have been assessed - G. c. Rothschildi and G. c. peralta – are both listed as Endangered. When the remaining seven subspecies are reviewed, it is likely that their conservation classification will change to better reflect current population status.
Kenya is the only country in Africa with three giraffe subspecies; G. c. Rothschildi, G. c. tippelskirchi and G. c. reticulata, and as such, holds the highest level of giraffe biodiversity in Africa. Of these, G. c. Rothschildi is classified as Endangered with fewer than an estimated 1,100 individuals remaining in the wild. G. c reticulata is thought to number fewer than 5,000 individuals, and has suffered a 40% decline in the past ten years. G. c. tippelskirchi has suffered an 80% decline in the past ten years.
Despite such alarming figures, there is little research or conservation work focused on giraffes in comparison to other large mammals, and the species has traditionally been overlooked. This project sought to address this lack of knowledge by conducting a general review and overall assessment of giraffe populations in Kenya. A country-wide assessment of giraffe populations is critical to Kenya’s conservation plans for giraffes.