Conservation groups and environmental activists have teamed up to sue the Trump administration over its failure to protect giraffes. As reported by truthout, the groups intend to sue over what they are referring to as a “silent extinction.”
The Trump administration stands accused of failing to consider protections for Africa’s giraffe population under the Endangered Species Act. This lawsuit comes at a critical time — just a few weeks ago, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature warned that Africa’s giraffes are vulnerable to extinction. Two subspecies of giraffe were further classified as “critically endangered.”
In 2017, numerous organizations petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a bid to ensure Endangered Species Act protection for giraffes. It is required that the agency respond to the petition within 90 days. It has now been over 19 months, and officials have still not responded in any way.
The organizations involved in the suit are the Natural Resources Defense Council, Humane Society International, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Humane Society of the United States.
The United States has played a large role in the decline of giraffes in Africa. In an investigation by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), it was determined that more than one giraffe is imported into the U.S. every single day, courtesy of trophy hunters.
Nearly 4,000 #giraffes killed by trophy hunters were imported into the US over the last decade. ????
A new undercover investigation has revealed the scale of the US market for giraffe knife handles, Western boots, furniture, taxidermy & even bible covers: https://t.co/0nuOVCVYhu pic.twitter.com/Uxl21QtAOE
— The Humane Society of the United States (@HumaneSociety) August 23, 2018
“The Trump administration would rather allow its rich donors to mount giraffe trophies on their walls than protect giraffes,” Elly Pepper, deputy director of NRDC’s Wildlife Trade Initiative, said in a statement. “Giraffes are headed toward extinction, in part due to our country’s importation of giraffe parts and trophies. It’s shameful — though unsurprising — that the Interior Department has refused to protect them under the Endangered Species Act and I hope the courts will agree.”
Giraffes occupy a precarious existence in the wild. The population has declined by 40 percent since the mid-1980s. As of this writing, only about 97, 560 giraffes exist in the wild. And with trophy hunting, deforestation, and climate change, those numbers could dip further.
Donald Trump’s own sons often post pictures of themselves with their latest big game conquests, per the Guardian.
Trump’s own International Wildlife Conservation Council was created to assist in the preservation of animals like giraffes. However, the group has been criticized by environmental advocates for pushing trophy hunting as a method of conservation — and actually attempting to broaden the reach of hunting for sport across the globe.