While the population of giraffes in the wild is drastically reduced, the sale of products made from their skins and bones is thriving.
In just 16 years,the population of the animal with the longest neck of all fauna has been drastically reduced from 140,000 to 80,000 specimens, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (CFG), due to the loss of their habitats, the impact of wars in African countries, civil strife, poaching and disease.
According to a report by the Humane Society of the United States and its international affiliates, more than 40,000 giraffe parts were imported into the United States from 2006 to 2015 to be made into pillows, boots, knife handles, covers for Bibles and other items. expensive.
The sale of these products is legal, but the organization argues that restrictions are required. Along with other advocacy groups, he has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide that protection by including giraffes on the endangered species list.
In 2016, a study by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) found that the global giraffe population had declined dramatically - from 150,000 to 100,000 since 1985. Giraffes face two threats fundamental: the loss of their habitat and the poaching of local people who want their meat.
Trophy hunting appears to be the primary source of the animals arriving in the United States, but it is not what drives them to extinction, said Adam Peyman, director of wildlife operations and programs for the International Humane Society. However, all markets for giraffe products put more pressure on the species. Including it on the US endangered species list would mean that its import, export, and international trade would require a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Service, which must decide whether the action could favor the survival of the species or not.
"We cannot allow more pressure for this species amid what experts have called a silent extinction," he said. "These are products that most people would not be interested in, but I think it is important to make them aware of the fact that these things are being sold."
Peyman says trophy hunters often keep the head and part of the neck of the giraffe for their personal use and leave the rest of the animal in the hands of the vendor who arranged the hunt for sale.
The Safari Club International, which promotes hunters' rights and wildlife conservation, mentioned in a statement that “despite the rhetoric used by the media, regulated legal hunting is one of the most effective avenues for conservation. ”. The statement also referenced the same 2016 IUCN study, albeit to argue that giraffe populations are healthier in nations like Angola, where there is legal hunting, and have plummeted in Kenya, where hunting is illegal.
The general American public is against big game hunting; a 2016 poll that revealed 86 percent oppose.
An investigator working for the society's American organization hacked into twenty-one sites to track sales of giraffe parts and speak to vendors.
The investigator discovered that the stuffed body of a young giraffe was being sold for $ 7,500, according to the Humane Society, and a pillow made of an intact head of the animal complete with eyelashes.
For the $ 400 Bible liners and the equally high priced boots, fur is removed from the skin so it is not obvious that the raw material is a giraffe.
A video taken from the investigator's hidden camera showed the vendor explaining that the giraffes had to be killed because they are aggressive and endanger the lives and livelihoods of African villagers. However, Peyman said there was no evidence that giraffes put people or crops at risk. These animals evolved to feed on tree leaves and are not aggressive, he stressed.
The current state of giraffes
Nowadaysonly 80,000 individuals remain in the wild and another 1,200 remain in zoological institutions around the world, which is equivalent tobarely 20% of the African elephant population. For Julian Fennessy, director of the GCF, “the attention of the authorities and the groupsConservationists have preferentially focused on elephants and rhinosas of late, which is pretty cool.
However, we cannot forget about giraffes, whose numbers have collapsed in a very short period of time". The population of this African ruminant has fallen by 40% in the last decade and although it appears on the red list of threatened species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) under the category of "lower risk", the giraffe camelopardalis includestwo subspecies, the Nigerian giraffe and the Rothschild's giraffe, which have now been included in the category of "endangered" animals.
Of the first, an estimated 400 individuals remain and of the second, 1,100. "If we are not careful, Africa will lose forever one of the most iconic animals of its megafauna," Fennesy noted in theWorld Giraffe Day, which was held for the first time this past June 21 and to which parks, NGOs and zoos from all over the world joined, including the Bioparc in Valencia, the Zoo Aquarium in Madrid and Selwo Aventura in Malaga.
With information from: