Giraffes Gain Endangered Species Protection As Their Numbers Continue To Plummet

Giraffes have been granted added protections as an endangered species and trade in the animals and their body parts will now be strictly regulated, according to the BBC:

“The mammals are largely targeted for bushmeat but body parts are also used to make products including jewellery, bracelets and purses, the proposal stated.

“The motion came from the Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Niger and Senegal, where giraffe populations have been diminishing heavily.

“But there was resistance from southern African countries, including South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania, where giraffes have fared better.”

The global giraffe population is down dramatically across the globe, EcoWatch notes, with their numbers plummeting by 40 percent over the past 30 years:

“With fewer giraffes than elephants left, they face many threats, including habitat loss, disease, poaching for bushmeat, the international giraffe parts trade, and trophy hunting. Their populations are, for the most part, small, fragmented, and widely scattered. For example, while giraffes used to range throughout much of West Africa, their only remaining population in the region consists of 425 giraffes in Niger. As such, seven of the nine giraffe subspecies have been classified as threatened with extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.”

Even the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave a strong statement in support of protecting the majestic animals, noting that giraffe parts are being brought into the United States and more data is needed to determine just how much giraffes are threatened.

Trade in giraffe parts has indeed spiked dramatically:

“While we have lacked international trade data for giraffes since they weren’t previously listed under CITES, U.S. data reveals trade in giraffe parts is soaring with almost 40,000 giraffe parts imported to the U.S. between 2006 and 2015—the equivalent of at least 3,751 giraffes. The most common giraffe parts seen in trade are bone carvings, raw bones, and skins. Further, a 2018 undercover investigation of the U.S. giraffe parts market found a variety of products, including many knives with giraffe bone handles — which have become common in the wake of the ivory ban — and taxidermied trophies.”

Susan Lieberman, vice president of international policy for the Wildlife Conservation Society, says there is a great deal of misinformation about how many giraffes remain on the planet:

“So many people are so familiar with giraffes that they think they’re abundant. And in Southern Africa, they may be doing OK, but giraffes are critically endangered.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, praised the decision to protect giraffes, and Maina Philip Muruthi of the African Wildlife Foundation warned that if nothing had been done, extinction was a very real possibility.

But not everyone was pleased by the move to protect the animals.

Maurus Msuha, director of wildlife at the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, complained:

“We see no reason as to why we should support this decision, because Tanzania has a stable and increasing population of giraffes. Over 50% of our giraffe population is within the Serengeti ecosystem, which is well protected. Why should we then go for this?”

But with the new protections, it will be easier to track the animals and make sure that zoos aren’t the only place they’re found.


Featured Image Via Bob Owen for Flickr

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Andrew Bradford

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