By WAN –
December 6, 2018
Conservation groups have sued the Trump administration for failing to consider protections for Africa’s rapidly dwindling giraffe population under the Endangered Species Act.
Yesterday’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., comes weeks after the International Union for the Conservation of Nature updated its assessment of Africa’s remaining giraffes, reaffirming that the species is “vulnerable” to extinction, and classifying two subspecies as “critically endangered.”
Filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, Humane Society of the United States, and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the suit challenges the refusal of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to accept an April 2017 petition seeking Endangered Species Act protection for giraffes. The agency was required to respond within 90 days, but 19 months have passed without action.
“Giraffes capture our imaginations from childhood on, but many people don’t realize how few are left in the wild,” Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement. “Instead of throwing these unique animals a lifeline under the Endangered Species Act, Trump officials are twiddling their thumbs. Trump will be to blame if future generations know giraffes only as toys and not the long-necked icons of Africa.”
Fewer than 100,000 giraffes remain in the wild, and the population dropped nearly 40% over the past three decades. The species is gravely imperiled by habitat loss, civil unrest, and illegal hunting for their meat, they are also threatened by the international trade in bone carvings, skins, and trophies.
“The Trump administration would rather allow its rich donors to mount giraffe trophies on their walls than protect giraffes,” said Elly Pepper, deputy director of NRDC’s Wildlife Trade Initiative. “Giraffes are headed toward extinction, in part due to our country’s importation of giraffe parts and trophies. It’s shameful, though unsurprising, that the Interior Department has refused to protect them under the Endangered Species Act.”
On average, the United States reportedly imports more than one giraffe hunting trophy a day, and the country imported more than 21,400 giraffe-bone carvings between 2006 and 2015.
Protection under the Endangered Species Act would help track and curb imports of giraffe bones, trophies, and other parts, and increase funding for conservation efforts in Africa.
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