In a win for giraffes, a new measure under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) seeks to regulate the trade of the world’s tallest mammal and their body parts.
Despite some opposition, 106 countries voted in favor of the motion and countries will now need to record the export of giraffe parts and artefacts. Permits will also be compulsory for giraffe trade.
The UK-based Animal Survival International (formerly Political Animal Lobby), said the move will play a crucial role in conserving the giraffe population, which has declined by about 40% over the past 30 years.
“This is a step in the right direction and in Africa particularly, it’s a measure that is needed, given that poaching is out of control,” said ASI campaigner Andrea Matthee.
“However, we will be keeping a close eye on how this will be rolled out and implemented by governments. When it comes to animal welfare, we often note that legislation does not always equate to implementation.”
Matthee said it was important that there be harsh consequences for the illegal trade of giraffes or their body parts.
“We need to see authorities set an example for those who fail to comply to this regulation. If illegal traders get a slap on the wrist, then the motion would mean nothing. We need to see harsh consequences being meted out,” she said.
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation states that in the 1980s, the total number of giraffes in Africa was estimated at 155,000. Today, the foundation estimates the giraffe population to be 111,000. It said giraffes were already extinct in at least seven countries in Africa.
Among the main threats to giraffes are poaching, disease and human population growth. Many of these threats arise from direct, indirect or perceived competition for resources with humans and their livestock. Giraffes are also targeted for bushmeat and their body parts are used to make products including jewellery, bracelets and purses.