The giraffe population in east, central and west Africa is dropping significantly, but their numbers are, however, rising in Namibia and the rest of southern Africa, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The latest IUCN update released on the Red List of Threatened Species indicates that Africa has lost almost 40 per cent of its giraffe population over the last three decades.

In an interview with Nampa this week, the director and co-founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group, Julian Fennessy, said the decline is mostly caused by human population growth.

"As people have expanded across the continent, more land is needed for development which unfortunately results in less land for wildlife," Fennessy said, adding that habitat loss had the greatest impact but most recently, poaching and illegal hunting in central and eastern Africa had led to the decrease in giraffe numbers.

Fennessy also said Namibia had been very successful in its conservation and management of giraffes, leading to the number of the animals doubling if not tripling over the last three decades.

Namibia has more than 12 000 giraffes of which most are Angolan giraffes, while over 100 are South African giraffes, according to Fennessy.

"It is really unlikely that this type of decline experienced elsewhere will happen in Namibia unless there is an international interest in giraffe bones and skins," he noted.

He added that community conservation with support from Government and the private sector had done an amazing job as Namibia and South Africa combined houses 50 per cent of the world giraffe population.