Giraffe are iconic figures across a range of African landscapes but they are currently under considerable conservation threat.
Although they are widely distributed throughout 21 different countries, continent-wide populations have declined considerably over the past several decades, highlighted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) new categorization of giraffe as a single species as “Vulnerable.” Recent genetic studies, however, propose alternative taxonomic categorizations in which giraffe are comprised of four distinct species. These proposed taxonomic classifications have considerable impact on giraffe conservation status, emphasizing the diverse challenges that giraffe face throughout Africa.
Here, we describe recent studies on the taxonomic status of giraffe and examine implications for conservations status assessments. We conducted an extensive review of current giraffe abundance throughout all known populations and evaluated these updated abundance trends through the taxonomic perspective of a four species classification. We provide the most recent and comprehensive abundance estimates for wild giraffe in Africa. According to our assessment, there are approximately 117,173 giraffe in the wild. Providing the most current and accurate giraffe abundance estimates within evolving taxonomic perspectives can better guide targeted conservation efforts for these imperiled taxa.