Speed Reads

save the giraffes

Giraffes in jeopardy due to poaching, loss of habitat

Poaching and habitat loss are causing the number of giraffes in Africa to plummet at an alarming rate.

"It's a silent extinction," Dr. Julian Fennessy, executive director of the Giraffe Conservation Research group, told ABC News. Part of the problem is people think there are actually more giraffes than there are, and not enough steps are being taken to prevent their extinction.

Fennessy said the number of giraffes has dropped more than 40 percent over 15 years, from 140,000 to less than 80,000 today. Elephants Without Borders reports that out of nine subspecies, two are now considered endangered: There are less than 300 "West African giraffes" in Niger and fewer than 700 "Rothschild's giraffes" in Uganda and Kenya.

One sad recent development is the spread of a rumor in Tanzania that says giraffe brains and bone marrow can cure HIV and AIDS. People pay $140 a piece for the head and bones of the giraffe, making it a lucrative business for poachers.