Not everyone's happy with protection for giraffes

James Marshall
August 24, 2019

Giraffes have been given protection against trade in their body parts for the first time as the countries that make up the regulator added them to an endangered animals list.

The vote by signatories of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) at the World Wildlife Conference paves the way for the measure's likely approval by its plenary next week. It passed 106-21 with seven abstentions.

"The decisions today. mean it's status quo for elephants: No worldwide commercial ivory trade is permitted and that is what needs to happen", said Susan Lieberman of the Wildlife Conservation Society. It came after the defeat of a motion by Botswana and other southern African countries to exclude their giraffe populations from any regulation.

"Thanks to today's decision, the global trade in giraffe parts - which includes rugs and bone carvings - will be tracked in a manner that allows us to focus on problem trends in destructive trade, and fight for additional protections if necessary", said Elly Pepper of the US-based group.

Lieberman said giraffes were particularly at risk in parts of West, Central and East Africa.

Giraffes face "silent extinct", the Natural Resources Defense Council, a conservation group, said in a statement.

"If that trend continues, it means that we are headed toward extinction".

But not all African countries were on board. "Why should we then go for this?"

Delegates from countries around the world are now attending the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) convention in Geneva, where they are voting on international wildlife trade law.

"The giraffe is, in the wild, much rarer than African elephants, much rarer", Tom De Meulenaer, CITES' scientific services chief, told a news briefing.

"With fewer giraffes than elephants in Africa, it was a no-brainer to simply regulate giraffe exports", said Tanya Sanerib, global legal director at the Centre for Biological Diversity. Sanerib said it was important for the United States to act on its own as well.

Giraffe conservation has taken a big step forward with the world's tallest mammals receiving enhanced protection from unregulated trade.

The meeting in Geneva came after the Trump administration announced earlier this month plans to roll back parts of the US Endangered Species Act - a landmark law which protects hundreds of species of animals and plants, including the bald eagle.

The meeting in Geneva comes after Trump's administration last week announced plans to water down the US Endangered Species Act - a message that could echo among attendees at the CITES conference, even if the US move is more about domestic policy than global trade.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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