Giraffes have been given protection against trade in their body parts for the first time as the countries that make up the regulator added them to an endangered animals list.
Delegates from countries around the world are currently attending the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) convention in Geneva, where they are voting on international wildlife trade law.
Previously, there was no international protection for giraffe body parts as they were not listed on a CITES appendix, which are the lists of animals one has to procure a licence to trade.
The species is now listed on Appendix II, which means international trade in giraffe parts, such as hides, bones and meat will be regulated.
Although it is not a ban, it will be much more difficult to trade in giraffe body parts.
Adam Peyman, the Humane Society International’s wildlife programs and operations manager, said: “Securing CITES Appendix II protection for the giraffe throws a vital lifeline to this majestic species, which has been going quietly extinct for years.
“This listing could not come soon enough. CITES listing will ensure that giraffe parts in international trade were legally acquired and not detrimental to the survival of the species.”
Defra minister Zac Goldsmith welcomed the news, tweeting: “Good news. Well done to the Defra team for making the case so forcefully.”
A cross-party coalition of MPs wrote to Michael Gove earlier this year when he was the environment secretary, urging him to protect giraffes.
The MPs, including Mr Goldsmith, Simon Clarke, Alex Chalk and Richard Benyon, as well as Labour MP John Mann and independent MP Frank Field urged: “Whilst there are several reasons for this huge decline in giraffe numbers, including habitat destruction and human-animal conflict, there are alarming reports of an increase in giraffe hunting trophies and products being sold and traded. Greater protection under CITES would regulate this trade and make sure that it does not threaten the worldwide population.
“We urge you to build on the UK’s record in helping to conserve elephants and rhinos, by taking a stand at the next CITES meeting in May and joining African nations in making sure that giraffes are better protected. This meeting needs to be a turning point in reversing the decline in giraffe numbers, and the UK is well placed to lead on this.”