Report Reveals Significant U.S. Trade in Giraffe Parts

In April 2017 NRDC and our partners filed a petition to list giraffes under the Endangered Species Act due to massive declines in their populations (about 40% since 1990). One of our most surprising findings in developing the petition was that nearly 40,000 giraffe parts and products—thought to represent nearly 4,000 giraffes—have been imported into the U.S. over the last decade, making the U.S. a significant market for giraffe parts.

A new investigation released by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) today confirms our country’s notable role in giraffe declines and reveals a close connection between the giraffe bone trade and trophy hunters.

During the investigation, researchers found giraffe parts for sale from coast to coast at more than 52 U.S. locations, 21 of which they visited. The most common items found were Western boots made from giraffe leather and specialty knives/ knife products made from giraffe bone. Other giraffe products included giraffe taxidermy “trophies;” giraffe hide pillows and rugs; giraffe skin bible covers and furniture; and giraffe bones and bone carvings.

Investigators also found that American trophy hunters supply the U.S. market with giraffe trophies and parts, including skins and bones. For example, companies that make products out of giraffe parts—like knives with giraffe bone handles and giraffe-skin rugs—said they buy the parts from trophy hunters. And several companies offering giraffe hunts in Africa told the investigators they sell giraffe parts left behind by trophy hunters.

Finally, the investigation found that three known sellers of giraffe parts and products have criminal records for serious animal-related crimes, including the trafficking of rhino horn.

The Trump Administration never responded to our petition to list giraffes, despite the fact that the Endangered Species Act requires them to make both 90-day and 12-month findings. Those results are long overdue. It's time to grant our petition and list giraffes to increase the protections they deserve and need.

About the Authors

Elly Pepper

Deputy Director, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Division, Nature Program

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