Research led by ALERT director Bill Laurance shows that these projects would total over 53,000 kilometers in length, crisscrossing the continent and opening up vast expanses of remote, biologically rich ecosystems to new development pressures.
In addition, giraffes are plagued by poachers with powerful automatic rifles. As shown in this poignant video, giraffes are commonly killed merely for their tails — which are valued as a status symbol and dowry gift by some African cultures.
Time to Act
The sweeping decline of giraffes reflects wider trends in wildlife populations. A recent report by WWF projects that we could lose two-thirds of all individual birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish on Earth by 2020. Species in tropical nations are doing especially poorly.
What are we to do? A critical first step is to help African nations to develop their natural resources and economies in ways that don’t decimate nature.
This is an urgent challenge that revolves around improving land-use planning, governance, and protection of nature reserves and imperiled wildlife.
We also must address the fundamental drivers of Africa’s plight: its booming population and desperate needs for sustainable development.
For the stately giraffe and the rest of Africa’s declining wildlife, it’s time to stand tall -- or simply wave goodbye.