Trophy hunting threatens giraffes with extinction; U.S. conservationist groups sue Trump administration

Conservationist groups in the United States brought a lawsuit against the Trump administration on Thursday for not protecting giraffes via the country’s Endangered Species Act. 

The suit challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s refusal to act on a public petition from April 2017 seeking Endangered Species Act protection for giraffes. The agency is required to respond to petitions to protect endangered species protection within 90 days.

The giraffe population has dropped by close to 40 percent over the past thirty years, with habitat loss, poaching, trophy hunting and the ensuing international trade in giraffe skins and bones all contributing to the decline. The United States imports more than one giraffe hunting trophy a day, and the country imported more than 21,400 giraffe-bone carvings between 2006 and 2015.

Anna Frostic, managing wildlife attorney for the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, said: “The United States cannot stand idly by and allow thousands of U.S. imports of giraffe parts every year without any regulation while these animals are on a path to extinction. It is time that the United States stands tall for giraffes and gives this at-risk species the protection that it urgently needs.”

Increased attention has turned towards trophy hunting in recent years, with one notable case being the wealthy American dentist Walter Palmer who killed the famous lion Cecil in Zimbabwe in 2015, drawing international criticism of and attention to the imperialist practice of trophy hunting. Palmer had paid tens of thousands of U.S. dollars to track down the famous symbol of Zimbabwe. 

The Trump sons pose with a dead leopard in Zimbabwe

Donald Trump’s sons are avid trophy hunters themselves, having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to travel to Africa to kill leopards, elephants, and other endangered species. Earlier this year, the Trump administration lifted bans on elephant and lion trophies brought into the country by trophy hunters. 

And while the international media and conservationists have given increasing attention to the harms of trophy hunting, the lack of international discussion on the colonial and classist nature of the practice remains deafening.

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