Nations around the world moved Thursday to protect giraffes as an endangered species for the first time, drawing praise from conservationists and scowls from some sub-Saharan African nations, the AP reports. Thursday's vote by a key committee at the World Wildlife Conference known as CITES paves the way for the measure's likely approval by its plenary next week. The plan would regulate world trade in giraffe parts, including hides, bone carvings and meat, while stopping short of a full ban. It passed 106-21 with seven abstentions.
"So many people are so familiar with giraffes that they think they're abundant," said Susan Lieberman, an official at the Wildlife Conservation Society. "And in Southern Africa, they may be doing OK, but giraffes are critically endangered." Lieberman said giraffes were particularly at risk in parts of West, Central, and East Africa. The Wildlife Conservation Society said it was concerned about the multiple threats to giraffes that have already resulted in population decline, citing habitat loss, droughts worsened by climate change, and the illegal killings and trade in giraffe body parts. "The giraffe has experienced over 40% decline in the last 30 years," said Maina Philip Muruthi of the African Wildlife Foundation. "If that trend continues, it means that we are headed toward extinction."
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