Not One, but Four Species of Giraffe
“The Guardian” informs us that, according to analysis of DNA evidence, there is enough genetic differences to distinguish four distinct species of giraffes, instead of just one. Interestingly, researchers say that the differences are as large as those between brown bears and polar bears. The most obvious differences are in the shape of giraffes’ patterns and how far they extend, and how many horns the creatures have. The new study also suggested that the four species do not mate with each other in the wild and have been shown to interbreed in captivity.
Giraffe have suffered a decline in number from around 150,000 across Africa three decades ago to 100,000 today. The decline is caused by habitat loss, fragmentation, increasing land for agricultural needs and illegal hunting. As a single species the giraffe is currently listed as of least concern on the red list of endangered species. However, the situation may change now. If formally recognized as four separate species, three of those four would suddenly be listed in threatened categories on the IUCN red list, which would hopefully catalyze greater efforts to protect them, said Dr Julian Fennessy, lead author of this new study.
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