DARIEN, Conn, Jan. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Habitat loss, trophy hunting, poaching, climate change, mining and the bushmeat trade have placed giraffes in danger of extinction and they should be placed on the Endangered Species list, Friends of Animals said in comments filed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Giraffes currently have no protection under U.S. law. In 2019, the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species listed giraffes on Appendix II, which regulates trade in the species but doesn't ban it.
The species has declined nearly 40 percent to under 100,000 in the past three decades from 150,000.
Although animal advocacy groups filed a petition ibn 2017 urging FWS to list giraffes as endangered it hasn't.
Meanwhile, trade in their parts continues to thrive with the U.S. being a major importer.
"It is widely recognized that the U.S. market and American trophy hunting culture are driving factors contributing to both legally targeted hunting and illegal hunting of giraffes. More than 40,000 giraffe parts and products were imported into the U.S. over one decade's time," FoA said in comments filed by its Wildlife Law Program.
Between 2006 and 2016, the U.S. imported 21,402 bone carvings, 3,008 skin pieces and 3,744 hunting trophies and 3,000 pelts and skin products and 825 jewelry pieces. Body parts are being turned into Western boots, knives, pillows, rugs and furniture.
"As soon as you put a price tag on vulnerable, threatened and endangered animals, you send a mixed message about whether or not they need to be protected at all, and that's detrimental to actual conservation," FoA President Priscilla Feral said. "There is urgency for the U.S. to act fast to protect giraffes."
In addition to urging FWS to list giraffes on ESA, FoA is also working to protect them from trophy hunters by supporting legislation in New York – the nation's largest importer of trophies— and Connecticut that would ban the importation, possession, sale or transportation of the trophies of African giraffes as well as leopards, lions, elephants, and black and white rhinos.
The legislation known as the Big 5 African Trophies Act, has twice passed the state senates in New York and CT. FoA is working to move the bill to law in this upcoming legislation session in both states.
Friends of Animals, an international animal advocacy organization founded in N.Y. in 1957 and headquartered in Darien, CT, advocates for the rights of free-living and domestic animals. FoA is proud to be a woman-founded and -led organization for more than 60 years.