This week the New York State Legislature passed A.6606 (Englebright)/ S.5098 (Martinez), which requires the department of environmental conservation to “designate certain species as vulnerable species and prohibits the sale of articles made from any part of a vulnerable species; and requires the department to designate the giraffe as a vulnerable species.”
Brian Shapiro, New York Senior State Director for the Humane Society of the United States issued the following statement:
“We are tremendously grateful for the New York Legislature’s prompt and decisive action to protect giraffes when they learned of the grotesque trade in giraffe products in the state as revealed in the Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International undercover investigation in August 2018. Giraffes are among the most iconic and beloved animals and the Empire State is on the cusp of becoming the first state in the U.S. to prohibit the sale of giraffe parts and products. We applaud Assemblymember Englebright and Senator Martinez for their leadership and we urge Governor Cuomo to swiftly sign the historic legislation into law.”
Some background on this issue:
- An undercover investigation conducted by the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International found giraffe parts and products sold online and in stores by at least 51 dealers across the U.S. including in New York. These included giraffe bone knife handles, custom jackets made from giraffe skin, and other products.
- The U.S. is a significant importer of giraffe specimens. From 2006 to 2015, the U.S. imported approximately 40,000 giraffe parts and products, mostly for commercial purposes. Among these imports were about 21,000 giraffe bone carvings, nearly 4,000 raw bones, about 3,000 skin pieces, almost 2,000 raw bone pieces and more than 700 skins.
- There are no international or federal laws protecting giraffes from trade. In 2017 the HSUS, HSI and other conservation groups petitioned the Department of Interior to list the giraffe as endangered in the Endangered Species Act. On April 25, 2019 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that giraffes may qualify for protection under the ESA following the petition and a lawsuit filed also by HSUS, HSI and other groups.
- Five African countries -- Chad, Niger, Senegal, Central African Republic and Kenya -- have submitted a proposal to list the giraffe in Appendix II in the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The 18th Conference of the Parties of the Convention will deliberate the proposal later this year.
- The wild giraffe population has plunged nearly 40 percent in the past 30 years. It now stands at just over 97,000 individuals.