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Giraffes Could Soon Be An Endangered Species
Aryanna Gourdin (Picture: Facebook)
April 21st, 2017 | 10:32 AM | 505 views
Giraffes could soon be listed as endangered, with conservationists fearing the ‘silent extinction’ of the world’s tallest land animal.
Five environmental groups have lodged a legal petition for the US government to list the species as endangered, according to the Guardian.
Just 97,500 of the animals are left in sub-Saharan Africa today, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
They say this equates to a drop of almost 40% since 1985 and that there are now fewer giraffes in Africa than elephants.
Experts believe a loss of habitat, disease and illegal hunting for bushmeat are all to blame.
But the petition argues that ‘trophy’ hunters, who travel to Africa to shoot game, are also contributing to the decline of the species.
In 2015, the killing of Cecil the lion brought trophy hunting to widespread public attention.
And in August Aryanna Gourdin, a 12-year-old girl from Utah, was pictured with a dead giraffe and zebra.
The decline of giraffes, which have necks as long as six feet and tongues that can grow as long as 20in, has taken many experts by surprise.
Jeff Flocken, North America regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said: ‘When I was doing research on giraffes in Kenya a few years ago, they were quite abundant and no one questioned that they were doing well.
‘Only recently have we looked at them critically and seen this huge drop, which has been a shock to the conservation community. This is an iconic animal and it’s in deep trouble.’
If the species was listed as endangered, restrictions would be placed on any American hunter travelling to Africa to bring back a slaughtered giraffe.
Americans imported 21,402 bone carvings, 3,008 skin pieces and 3,744 miscellaneous hunting trophies from giraffes over the past decade, according to data from the IUCN.
At least 3,700 individual giraffes are thought to have been killed for such items.
Mr Flocken explained that while America could not do much to prevent the killing of giraffes in Africa, the regulation of trophy imports would be a ‘significant’ step in protecting them.
He said: ‘Currently, no US or international law protects giraffes against overexploitation for trade. It is clearly time to change this.
‘As the largest importer of trophies in the world, the role of the United States in the decline of this species is undeniable, and we must do our part to protect these animals.’
courtesy of METRO
by Fiona Parker
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