A shocking report has revealed that the demand for giraffe parts in the United States is booming despite the dwindling number of the animal around the world.
The Humane Society of the United States and its affiliate organizations have recently exposed an unregulated market where skin and bones of giraffes are being sold to be used for boots, pillows, bible covers, and more.
Investigators went undercover and found products being sold online and in physical stores. Over 20 stores in California, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas have been discovered to be selling items that contain giraffe parts.
Unregulated Market Driving Giraffe Population To Extinction
"Purchasing giraffe parts puts the entire species at risk," stated Kitty Block, the president and CEO of Humane Society International. "The giraffe is going quietly extinct. With the wild population at just under 100,000, there are now fewer than one third the number of giraffes in Africa than elephants."
The Humane Society found that specialty knives and knife products made out of giraffe bone is the most commonly sold products in the United States. Investigators also found Western boots made from giraffe leather, giraffe hide pillows, giraffe skin bible covers, giraffe bone carvings, and giraffe taxidermy trophies. More than 40,000 giraffe parts have been exported to the United States between 2006 and 2015.
In addition, the animal welfare organization also reports that sellers who offer giraffe products lie to their potential customers, saying that the animal was killed because they pose a threat to villages in Africa. Truth is, giraffes are gentle giants that eat leaves and are not dangerous unless, of course, provoked.
Despite their friendly nature, giraffes have been dwindling in numbers. In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has placed the animals native of Africa to the vulnerable list for the first time. Two subspecies of giraffes have joined Asian elephants and Bengal tigers in the endangered list.
However, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that oversees the endangered list in the United States, does not see giraffes as vulnerable species. The importation, selling, and purchase of giraffe skin and bones across the country are, therefore, not illegal. However, the booming market that the humane society found was unregulated.
Giraffes Need Help
The Humane Society is putting pressures on the government to take action and list giraffes as endangered in order to restrict the import, export, and sale of giraffe parts in the United States. A petition signed by affiliate humane organizations will be submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
"We urge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the giraffe as endangered under the Endangered Species Act to help combat this trade and reduce population declines before it's too late," added Block.
Experts believe that only under 100,000 giraffes exist around the world. The gentle giants known for their long necks face two main threats: habitat loss and poaching.