The iconic giraffe, one of the world’s most recognisable animals and the tallest land mammal, has moved from ‘Least Concern’ to ‘Vulnerable’ in the newly released International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa, new population surveys estimate an overall decline of up to 40% in the global giraffe population over the last 30 years.
Do you know how many different kinds of giraffe there are? Up until now, everyone thought there was a single species of giraffe made up of several subspecies. But, according to the most inclusive genetic analysis of giraffe relationships to date, giraffe actually are not one species, but four. For comparison, the genetic differences among giraffe species are at least as great as those between polar and brown bears.