Countries voted overwhelmingly to regulate international trade in giraffe and body parts, overcoming objections by southern African states and drawing praise from conservationists.
The provisional decision, taken iat a key committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), is expected to be endorsed at a plenary next week, officials said. Requirements would come into force 30 days later.
“The giraffe in the wild is rarer than African elephants, much rarer,” Tom De Meulenaer, CITES’ scientific services chief, told a news briefing.
“We are talking about thousands of giraffes and talk about hundreds of thousands of African elephants. So we need to be careful,” he said.
Some 106 parties to the UN-backed wildlife conservation treaty voted in favour of the motion, 21 voted against, with seven abstentions, the chairman said, adding: “The proposal is accepted.”
Wildlife activists welcomed the move to list nine species of giraffe on CITES Appendix II regulating trade. It came after the defeat of a motion by Botswana and other southern African countries to exclude their giraffe populations from regulation.
Giraffes face “silent extinction”, the Natural Resources Defence Council, a conservation group, said in a statement.
“By placing strict trade limits on giraffe parts, CITES parties recognise uncontrolled trade could threaten giraffe survival,” said Elly Pepper of the US-based group. “Thanks to today’s decision, the international trade in giraffe parts – including g 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 protection,” she said.
Cassandra Koenen of World Animal Protection said giraffe “are not playthings for trophy hunting – an unsustainable and unregulated industry”.
“This message is clear: people care about wild animals and believe they belong in the wild, not a trophy in your office.”