For over hundred years, scientists thought that there is only species of giraffe present on the Earth. However, a new study suggests that actually all the giraffes can be classified into four different species and what we knew till date is all wrong.
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation that was part of the study said that we need study in more depth to confirm that the giraffes can be genetically classified in four different categories.
Earlier, all the giraffes were classified as the Giraffa camelopardalis species, but now researchers have divided them in four groups — northern giraffe, southern giraffe, reticulated giraffe and Masai giraffe.
“The genetic analysis shows that there are four highly distinct groups of giraffe, which apparently do not mate with each other in the wild,” the conservation group said. “As a result, they … should be recognized as four distinct species.”
Due to limited study on the long-neck animals, scientists wrongly assumed all the giraffes to fall under one category. Experts say that we have conducted several studies on animals like elephants, rhinoceroses, gorillas, and lions but very few studies are available on giraffes.
Population of giraffe has gone down from over 1.5 lakh to less than 1 lakh in last three decades and scientists have ignored the population decline too due to lack of study.
“With now four distinct species, the conservation status of each of these can be better defined and in turn hopefully added to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List in time,” Dr. Julian Fennessy of Giraffe Conservation Foundation said in a statement.
Study authors further revealed that only 4,750 northern giraffes and 8,700 reticulated giraffes are present on Earth and they are at the verge of extinction. There is a strict need to conserve these species and include them in the Red List that protects endangered animals from extinction.
Moreover, further study is required to confirm the classification so that it is accepted by the authorities.
The study appeared in the journal Current Biology this week.