Between 1985 and 2016, the world's giraffe population plummeted by nearly 40 percent. Just over 97,000 of the long-necked mammals remain in the wild, including 68,000 mature adults—equivalent to less than a quarter of the world’s estimated African elephant population, Michael Biesecker reports for the Associated Press. While elephants were listed as a threatened species under the United States’ Endangered Species Act in 1978, giraffes have yet to receive any such legal protections.
A petition filed by environmental and conservation groups in April 2017 may pave the way for giraffes’ addition to the legislative act. According to the statement, the petition presents “substantial information that listing may be warranted,” as threats, including land development, civil unrest, commercial trade and poaching, pose major obstacles to the species’ long-term survival.