November 24, 2013 | 5
Species name: Rothschild’s giraffe, a.k.a. the Baringo or Ugandan giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi), one as many as nine giraffe subspecies. Giraffe taxonomy is still an area of active study and one study published in 2007, but not yet widely accepted, suggests they may actually be six separate species.
Where found: Isolated regions of Kenya and Uganda
IUCN Red List status: Endangered, but on the verge of being classified as Critically Endangered due to rapidly declining populations.
Major threats: Two other giraffe subspecies can be found in Kenya, so one of the biggest current risks to the Rothschild’s giraffe is hybridization, which would effectively water down their genetics. The hunting and poaching that originally reduced the Rothschild’s numbers no longer appear to be a problem, but the animals have been forced into smaller and smaller areas and many groups are probably too small for their long-term health. In addition scientific knowledge of the subspecies has hampered conservationists’ ability to grow the population.
Previous Extinction Countdown articles about this species:
Notable conservation programs: Approximately 450 Rothschild’s giraffes live in zoos around the world, where they are actively bred. The Rothschild’s Giraffe Project works to research and conserve the subspecies in Africa.
Multimedia: Check out this video of a running herd of Rothschild’s giraffes:
Photo by Bernard Dupont via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license
Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, FutureX