Poachers Are Now Slaughtering Africa’s GiraffesReports from around Africa provide new evidence that giraffe poaching in several countries is on the rise, a trend that could further threaten a species that has lost more than 40 percent of its population over the past 15 years. Today fewer than 80,000 giraffes remain in Africa, and three of the nine giraffe subspecies have populations that have f…allen below 1,000 animals.
“Poaching is definitely on the increase,” said Julian Fennessy, executive director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. “Giraffes are the forgotten megafauna. They’re really not getting the attention they deserve.”
Poaching isn’t pervasive throughout the continent, but it is particularly problematic in Tanzania, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said.
Tanzania, which displays the giraffe as its national symbol, is a poaching hot spot. About 10 years ago herbal medicine practitioners in Tanzania started touting giraffe bone marrow and brains as a way to protect people from, or even cure, HIV/AIDS.
The belief continues to drive poaching in the country, according to a recent report from Tanzania’s Daily News. The practice has also driven up the prices for giraffe meat, making poaching more lucrative. A 2010 report from Rothschild’s Giraffe Project found that “freshly severed heads and giraffe bones” can bring in up to $140 each.
Tanzania, which is also the site of massive levels of elephant poaching, typifies another reason for giraffe poaching: The animals are killed to feed the people who are hunting elephants.
Image: Giraffe in Tanzania, by Nevit Dilmen