The State has launched a recovery plan for giraffes amid dwindling numbers linked to poaching, habitat loss, diseases, and climatic shocks.

The ‘National Recovery and Action Plan for Giraffe’ was launched Wednesday, November 21 and is the first restoration master plan for the Gentle Giants.

The initiative, covering 2018 to 2022, aims to address challenges for the sustainable conservation of giraffes in Kenya, whose numbers have reduced from 80,000 in the 1970s to the current 28,500.

Najib Balala, cabinet secretary for tourism and wildlife, noted that the recovery plan will enhance protection of these iconic mammals that are a major source of tourist attraction.

“We have an obligation to protect giraffes whose numbers have reduced from 80,000 in the 1970s to the current 28,500. Stronger laws are required to root out bushmeat trade that is to blame for a decline in the number of these mammals,” said Balala.

He said the government will channel additional resources to boost conservation of giraffes similar to other endangered mammals like elephants and rhinos.

Furthermore, a robust advocacy campaign targeting communities and landowners will be carried out to help communities understand the importance and methods of giraffe conservation.

Charles Musyoki, acting director general of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said that a national task force has already been constituted to look at policy, financing and legal interventions required to promote conservation of giraffes.

“The country is already providing leadership on giraffe conservation across Africa but we must strengthen surveillance of these mammals in free range and protected areas by engaging communities and law enforcement agencies,” said Musyoki.

This comes after Kenya declared that the world’s tallest land mammal is critically endangered.

“We’ve lost 40% of our giraffe population over the last 30 years. The Rothschild giraffes, in particular, we have only 659 remaining,” said Musyoki.

Thirty-six percent of the giraffe population in Africa lives in Kenya.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, three of the giraffe subspecies are now listed as “Critically Endangered” (Kordofan and Nubian giraffe) and “Endangered“ (reticulated giraffe).