With their graceful necks and peaceful demeanour, giraffes are among the most elegant and majestic creatures ever to walk this planet.
However, the existence of the world’s tallest land animals is under serious threat, due to the trophy hunting activities of some American tourists.
The giraffe population of sub-Saharan Africa has depleted by a devastating 40 per cent since 1985. There are now only 97,500 of these beautiful creatures remaining.
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Conservationists have now put forward a formal request to the US government for giraffes to be registered as endangered and to provide protection. It is hoped this will help prevent their ‘silent extinction’ before it is too late.
Combined groups of conservationists have analysed import data covering the last decade.
It was subsequently discovered how Americans imported 21,402 bone carvings and 3,008 pieces of hide as well as 3,744 miscellaneous hunting trophies from giraffes during this time period.
Horrifyingly, at least 3,700 individual giraffes are believed to have been slaughtered for the purpose of obtaining these items, The Guardian reports.
North America regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Jeff Flocken, 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.
Five environmental groups have filed a legal petition demanding the US Fish and Wildlife Service provide giraffes with endangered species protections.
Being granted endangered species status would place restrictions on American hunters who want to go to Africa to bring back a hunted giraffe.
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For example, a hunter would have to be able to show how taking the giraffe trophy home would help to conserve the giraffe species.
Going forward, the federal organisation will have 90 days in which to respond to the urgent petition. However, the process of granting endangered species status may take over a year.
Tess was able to take this dark beauty, LOVE IT!!
Almost 2000 pounds of meat off this will benefit so many people!
Congrats again, Tess:) pic.twitter.com/ufW0uTuaMD
— Rack Em Up (@RackEmUpHunts) July 2, 2017
Humane Society International trade policy specialist, Masha Kalinina, said:
In the past few years, several gruesome images of trophy hunters next to slain giraffe bodies have caused outrage, bringing this senseless killing to light.
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.
“Well done. You managed to shoot a stationery, 14 foot peaceful creature with a high velocity rifle. Very sporting ?!!"
— Bella Lack ? (@Lionheart0075) March 4, 2018
However, there are some people who argue trophy hunting is actually beneficial for trophy hunting.
According to the Metro, Tanzania claims to have made $75 million (£57.1 million) between 2008 and 2011 from hunting permits. An enormous 60 per cent of permits were bought by American trophy hunters.
This money was reportedly used to fund conservation projects to help the local wildlife. Tanzania now has the ‘highest African lion population in the world’, which they claim is an ‘indirect result of allowing trophy hunting.’
With President Donald Trump reversing a ban, now allowing legally hunted elephant trophies to be imported into America from two African countries, in November 2017, it may be some time before the giraffes receive the protection they need.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.