Giraffes move closer to US endangered species protection
WASHINGTON—In response to a lawsuit filed by conservation and animal welfare groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed today to a November 2024 deadline to decide whether giraffes deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, and the Humane Society of the United States filed a petition application for protection of the giraffes in April 2017. But the Service missed its legal decision deadline, which resulted in litigation.
“This is a critical milestone for giraffes, whose populations are dwindling as products made from their skin and bones pour into the United States,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This agreement was desperately needed to help give everyone’s favorite long-necked mammal a chance to benefit from federal protections. But during an extinction crisis, there shouldn’t be a lawsuit to get action under the Endangered Species Act. We should race to save all the species we can.
With less than 69,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild, giraffe populations have declined by nearly 40% over the past three decades due to habitat loss, civil unrest, poaching and human-caused habitat change . The international trade in giraffe parts – bone carvings, skins and trophies – puts additional pressure on these iconic animals.
Adam Peyman, director of wildlife programs for Humane Society International, speaking on behalf of Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, said: “This was a long and overdue step to protect giraffes. The United States is a major importer and seller of giraffe parts – including heads, legs and feet, tails and skins – and a major contributor to the threat of giraffe extinction. ‘species. The demand for these items is deplorable and an Endangered Species Act listing will strengthen the ability to fight this horrible domestic market.
Protection under the Endangered Species Act would help curb the import and sale of giraffe bones, skins and other parts in the United States and increase funding for conservation efforts. ‘species. Over a recent 10-year period, the United States imported more than one giraffe hunting trophy per day on average and more than 21,400 giraffe bone carvings. Many imported giraffe parts are turned into frivolous decorative items such as pillows, boots, Bible blankets and jackets, as revealed by a 2018 Humane Society International and Humane Society of the United States undercover investigation.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated giraffes as “vulnerable” to extinction in 2016 and classified two giraffe subspecies as “critically endangered” in 2018 and two others as “endangered” in 2018 and 2019.
Parties to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) decided in 2019 to regulate international trade in giraffes by requiring export permits. Since these protections do not prevent trade in giraffes and due to the decline of the species, conservation measures are crucial in countries like the United States which have a thriving market for giraffe body parts.
Today’s agreement setting a deadline of November 2024 is a much-needed step in reversing the role of the US market in the decline of this iconic and irreplaceable species.
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