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Giraffes in Danger?

TALL ORDER The giraffe population has decreased dramatically over the years. U.S. wildlife officials may list giraffes as endangered species. VOLANTHEVIST/GETTY IMAGES

The giraffe may soon join the lion and elephant on the endangered-species list. In April, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service said it would consider putting it there. The agency said it had “substantial information” that led to that decision. Officials will do an in-depth review before making a final call.

Designating giraffes as endangered would restrict people from bringing the animals into the United States. It would also set aside federal money. This would be used for conservation efforts.

“Giraffes capture our imaginations from childhood on,” says Tanya Sanerib. She works for the Center for Biological Diversity. “But many people don’t realize how few are left in the wild.”

Giraffes currently live in 21 African countries. They have been wiped out in at least seven others. Conservationists say habitat loss and poaching are major threats. Since 1985, giraffe populations have decreased by 40%. There are only about 68,000 adult giraffes left. That’s less than a quarter of the African elephant population.

Some are against listing the giraffe as endangered. Safari Club International is a pro-hunting group. It says any restrictions “would reduce U.S. hunters’ willingness to pay top dollar for giraffe hunts.” The group says that money could be used to buy land to increase giraffes’ habitat. It could also be used to fund anti-poaching programs, the group says.