San Diego, California - The first day of summer will be a tall order because June 21 will be the first-ever World Giraffe Day. Finally, the importance of giraffe conservation is recognized! We agree with the organizers that the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere is the most appropriate day to celebrate the tallest animal.
The timing is also perfect. Giraffes are up there with elephants, rhinos, and lions, sharing iconic status in the minds of the public. However, compared to those species, we know relatively little about these graceful animals. They are the forgotten megafauna!
For instance, we don't know how many giraffe species there are, how and why they form herds, how they communicate (perhaps ultrasonically), or why males spar with each other. Even the greatest mystery of them all—why such a long neck?—hasn't been fully answered.
With so many exciting things still to learn, it may come as a surprise that these much-loved "towers of the savanna" are slipping away in silence. One type of giraffe, the reticulated giraffe, has declined by 80 percent over the past 15 years alone. Since the turn of the century, they have gone from about 28,000 strong to just 5,000 today. At that rate they will be extinct by 2019.
One way to protect giraffes is though conservation education, reaching out to local communities and helping them protect this incredible species. Read on to see how our team hopes to spread the word about giraffes through education outreach.