Giraffes Could Soon Be Endangered Due To Trophy Hunting
Conservationists have sent a request for giraffes to be listed as endangered due to what they call the 'silent extinction' of the animal.
According to environmental groups, the reason giraffes are dying out is down to trophy hunting - the recreational killing of wild animals.
A legal petition filed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has called on the US Fish and Wildlife Service to offer up protection to giraffes, the number of which has suffered a steep decline in recent years.
The Guardian reports a drop in 40 percent of giraffes since 1985, taking the number in sub-Saharan Africa to just 97,500.
The reason the US is being called upon is because it's the largest known importer of trophy hunters seeking expensive expeditions. Conservationist groups state the giraffe population would improve if trophy imports were banned.
Masha Kalinina, international trade policy specialist with Humane Society International, told the paper, "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."
According to the IUCN analysis of import data, Americans imported 21,402 bone carvings, 3,008 skin pieces and 3,744 miscellaneous hunting trophies from giraffes over the past ten years. At least 3,700 giraffes have allegedly been killed for these items.
Julian Fennessy - co-chair of the IUCN's giraffe and okapi specialist group - told the Guardian: "Whilst giraffes are commonly seen on safari, in the media and in zoos, people, including conservationists, are unaware that these majestic animals are undergoing a silent extinction."
Should the request for endangerment go through, heavy restrictions would be placed on American hunters hoping to travel to Africa to slaughter giraffes, so basically they'd have to prove the giraffe killing was helping to sustain the species.
Some people reckon trophy hunting is beneficial to conservation for the financial gains it brings to certain states. But is a small stream of revenue as important as the plight of the giraffes?
We'll soon find out, as the petition is under 90-day review. Let's hope this 'silent extinction' turns into a loud one and we don't have to witness the extinction of giraffes in our lifetime.