Strong US demand for imported giraffe parts, investigation finds

Strong US demand for imported giraffe parts, investigation finds
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The U.S. market for imported giraffe parts is booming, according to an investigative report published Thursday.

More than 40,000 giraffe parts were imported to the country between 2006 and 2015, and a number of those so-called trophies are being sold unregulated at stores across the U.S., the Humane Society said in a new report published with Humane Society International.

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The most commonly found giraffe products for sale include giraffe hide cowboy boots, knives made from the animals's bones and giraffe skin throw pillows, according to the investigation that found parts for sale at more than 52 U.S. stores.

Giraffes are not on the endangered species list, meaning imports of giraffe parts are not regulated the same way as African lions or elephants.

"Purchasing giraffe parts puts the entire species at risk," Kitty Block, Humane Society president, said in a statement. "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 has long lobbied for the inclusion of giraffes under the Endangered Species Act, petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 2017 to add the animal to the list as its numbers in the wild dwindle.

The market for items made from giraffes across the country includes pricey items ranging from $8,000 for an entire giraffe taxidermy to $400 for a giraffe leather Bible cover, the group's investigation found.

A report by animals rights group Friends of Animals released last month found that more than three dozens permits to import lion trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia were issued since 2017.

The Trump administration last year announced it was overturning an Obama-era ban on the imports of African elephant and lion trophies from both countries, but later walked back the decision following public backlash. In March, the FWS announced that it would instead approve permits on a case by case basis.