The population of giraffes across Africa is down to around 110,000. It was about 160,000 as recently as 1985. The Masai giraffe found in East Africa in particular has struggled. It was listed as ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN Red List in 2019, which came as a result of the more than 50% decline over the last three decades, from approximately 71,000 to 35,000.
The numbers are sobering, but most animal populations in Big Life’s area of operation across Greater Amboseli, including elephants, lions and cheetahs, are either stable or increasing, a stark contrast to the dramatic decline in wildlife across much of the rest of Africa. In fact, the local giraffe population has roughly doubled in ten years of Big Life’s work and is now close to 7,000 giraffes. That means that the 1.6 million acres of the Greater Amboseli ecosystem protected by Big Life rangers is actually home to more than 5% of the entire African population.
There is no shortage of threats – ranging from habitat loss (land conversion to agriculture and cutting of trees for charcoal) to poaching (giraffes are highly desired in the bushmeat trade) but thanks to the efforts of Big Life and our ecosystem partners, Amboseli has become one of the strongholds of this species (or sub-species).
It is likely that the continent-wide decline of all giraffe populations will continue, as suitable habitat is consumed by Africa’s fast growing human population. As this happens, healthy giraffe populations such as that of Amboseli become the buffer against extinction, making our work more important with each passing day.