NAMIBIA - KARE 11's Sven Sundgaard went to Namibia to learn more about Black rhino conservation efforts of the Minnesota Zoo. Here is more from Sven on giraffes in Namibia.

They’re an essential stop at any zoo visit but are giraffes silently going extinct in Africa? Beyond black rhino conservation, Namibia is at the forefront of other endangered species efforts.

They seem to be a favorite of almost everyone: that tall, awkward beauty with the long neck and tongue.

But they’re one of the most overlooked species in terms of research and understanding.

While the giraffe has been all but ignored, it’s estimated that 40 percent of its population has been lost just in the last 15 years.

A recent DNA study found that, despite common perception, there isn’t one species of giraffe, with several subspecies, but actually four distinct species of giraffe in Africa. All four species are endangered just like the black rhino. Namibia is a success story with one of the few growing giraffe populations.

While the latest findings are dire for most of Africa, it may finally bring much needed attention to a gentle giant beloved by us all.

The most critically endangered giraffes are the northern giraffes with only 5,000 remaining in unstable portions of central Africa, making conservation efforts difficult. Namibia alone has 12,000 giraffes of the southern species.

check out the Giraffe Conservation Foundation for more information.