Trump administration backs bid to protect wild giraffes

Trump administration backs bid to protect wild giraffes
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The Trump administration lent its support to new measures that would help protect giraffes abroad the same week it dramatically rolled back protections for species at home.

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) supported a proposal to protect giraffes at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a multilateral agreement designed to protect various species.

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The move comes after the Interior Department announced Monday a rule that dramatically weakens protections for threatened and endangered species in the U.S. and their habitat.

A position paper from the FWS said “regulation of trade in the species is required” in order to maintain the wild giraffe population.

If approved, the measure requires the countries to issue export permits ensuring the hide or bones are legally acquired and the trade is not detrimental to the survival of the species. It will regulate and track, but not halt or prohibit, trade in giraffes and hunting trophies like skin and bones. CITES, held in Geneva, ends on Aug. 28.

“It’s encouraging to see the U.S. back this bid to protect Africa’s plummeting giraffe populations from trade,” Tanya Sanerib, legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s international program, said in a statement. “This is a crucial step toward reversing giraffes’ shocking slide toward extinction. If the international community doesn’t act fast, we could lose one of our planet’s loveliest and most distinctive animals.”

The center has petitioned FWS to protect giraffes under the U.S. endangered species law.

Environmentalists argue Monday’s changes to the Endangered Species Act will fast track the decline of many species. 

Updated at 10:17 a.m.