Giraffes are facing extinction after their numbers suffered a huge decline in the last 30 years, with nearly 40% of the world’s tallest animals lost.

That’s according to the latest ‘red list’ analysis, an authoritative list compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It says that the number of giraffes has seen a 38% decline since 1985, dropping from around 157,000 to 97,500 today.

Giraffes on brink of extinction

Unfortunately this is the latest headline in the crisis facing the natural world, as wild places are lost to pollution, converted to farmland, or mined, and animals continue to be hunted in large numbers. The red list now assesses some 85,000 species, more than 24,000 of those at risk of extinction.

There is some good news in the new analysis: a Madagascan freshwater fish which was presumed extinct after not being sighted since the 1960s has been rediscovered, and the Seychelles white-eye bird has recovered thanks to conservation efforts.

The IUCN now lists giraffes as ‘vulnerable’, and cites their high profile at safari parks as part of the problem, with many people simply not realising the problem that the famous animal faces.