It’s World Giraffe Day and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate then to share the news that the New York state Senate, voting 48 to 14, banned the importation, sale, possession and transportation of Africa’s Big 5— elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and giraffes—and their body parts in New York.
The legislation, drafted by Friends of Animals, now has to pass the Assembly, where it is cosponsored by Linda Rosenthal. If you live in New York please call your Assembly member and tell he or she to support A7556. You can find your Assembly members here.
“The Safari Club International is throwing its considerable dead weight around and emptying its coffers to kill the bill, so we must outwork and outpace them with a multitude of appeals to Assembly members to pass the bill,” said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals.
New York, which is the busiest port of entry for wildlife trophies, should be proud to be on the right side of history.
“Banning the continued importation, possession, sale, and transportation of the Big African Five is essential in ensuring their survival,” said state Senator Luis Sepulveda, who sponsored the legislation in the Senate. “Without this legislation, we are endangering these species and condoning poaching, a terrible and heinous act against our animals. It is unconscionable to take part in the extinction of a species, especially at a time when our environment faces so many threats, and therefore, we are very proud to have passed this legislation.”
This is monumental news that comes on the heels of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially considering listing the giraffe as an endangered species, a move long sought by wildlife advocates alarmed by their precipitous decline and a growing domestic market for giraffe products. However, it could take years before the U.S. gives them any protections.
Shockingly, in the last four years, 443 giraffe trophies/ and products made from their parts came into designated ports in New Jersey and New York, affording to a Freedom of Information Request document secured by Friends of Animals.
And recently, the government of Botswana announced elephant hunting will resume after a five-year prohibition, despite intense lobbying by some conservation advocates to continue the ban.
“As soon as you put a price tag on vulnerable, threatened and endangered animals, you send a mixed message about whether or not they need to be protected at all, and that’s detrimental to actual conservation,” Feral said.
New York does not have clean hands when it comes to pushing Africa’s Big 5 closer to extinction. The state is supplying customers to the grave, immoral trophy hunting industry.
From 2005 to 2014, 159,144 animals were imported as trophies—including 1,541 lions; 1,130 elephants and 83 pairs of tusks; 1,169 leopards as well as 110 white rhinos and 3 pairs of rhino horns.
The Big 5 African Trophies Act recognizes that legal trophy hunting as one of the main reasons Africa’s Big Five face extinction. It sends a strong message to New York, Washington and the rest of the country that trophy hunting needs to end to protect threatened species who are already fighting for the lives as they face poaching and habitat loss.
There is growing scientific evidence that the legal trade of trophy hunted species enables illegal poaching by providing poachers a legal market to launder their contraband. One example is South Africa—the country has seen a marked rise in illegal rhino poaching since it began selling permits for trophy hunted rhinos in 2004. Poaching has increased 5,000 percent since 2007.
While the Safari Club International boasts that revenues from hunting generate $200 million annually in remote areas of Africa, most of the money goes to trophy hunting operators/outfitters and government agencies, many of which are corrupt. A 2013 study reveals that a measly 3 percent of expenditures actually goes back to African communities for conservation or development.