The global giraffe population has dropped by 36% to 40% in the last three decades, according to a report published by Red List in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The population of the world’s tallest land mammal fell from 1.52 lakh to 1.63 lakh in 1985 to about 98,000 in 2015, because of which it was now listed as “vulnerable” to extinction from its earlier “least concern” status.

Loss of habitat through expanding farmlands and increasing mining, illegal hunting, rising human-wildlife conflict and civil unrest are factors that lead to this “slow extinction”. The animal has nine subspecies, of which three have growing populations, five have decreasing numbers, and one is stable, the IUCN-Red List report said.

At a IUCN World Conservation Congress in September this year, a resolution was adopted, calling for action to stop the decline in giraffe popuation.

Giraffes are widespread across southern and eastern Africa. Smaller, isolated subpopulations are native to west and central Africa. “While giraffes are commonly seen on safari, in the media and in zoos, people – including conservationists – are unaware that these majestic animals are undergoing a silent extinction,” said Julian Fennessy, an IUCN specialist on giraffe. “As one of the world’s most iconic animals, it is time that we stick our neck out for the giraffe before it is too late.”

The report also said that 11% of more than 700 species of birds were now at the risk of extinction. The African gray parrot is now listed as endangered, a result of trapping for pet trade. The bird is known for being able to mimic human speech.

The Red List, which is the primary international authority on risks to plants and animals, said more than 24,000 of the over 85,000 species assessed in recent decades were in danger of extinction.