How many species of giraffe are there?

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In a recent paper in Current Biology, Fennessy and colleagues [1] conclude that there are four species of giraffe and that their numbers are declining in Africa. Giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) are presently classified as one species, with nine subspecies, which are considered ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List [2]. The present consensus of one species divided into nine subspecies has previously been questioned (Supplemental information), and Fennessy and colleagues [1] provide another viewpoint on giraffe taxonomy. The fundamental reason for different taxonomic interpretations is that they are based upon different datasets that adopt different statistical techniques and follow different criteria for nomenclature.




Bercovitch, F. B., Berry, P. S. M., Dagg, A., Deacon, F., Doherty, J. B., Lee, D. E., … Tutchings, A. (2017, February 20). How many species of giraffe are there? Current Biology. Cell Press.

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