Lawsuit Launched to Push Trump Administration to Protect Giraffes From Extinction
Conservation groups Tuesday filed a notice of intent to sue the Trump administration for failing to respond to a legal petition to protect giraffes under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was required to respond to the April 2017 petition within 90 days, but nearly 17 months have passed with no finding.
"As giraffe populations plummet, the Trump administration won't even take the first step toward protecting these beautiful animals," said Tanya Sanerib, international program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Africa now has fewer giraffes than elephants, but the administration refuses to throw these imperiled creatures a lifeline. That has to change, before it's too late."
The 2017 petition—by the Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, Humane Society of the United States, International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Natural Resources Defense Council—seeks Endangered Species Act protection for giraffes, whose populations have plummeted nearly 40 percent over the past 30 years.
Just more than 97,000 giraffes remain in the wild, and the species is gravely imperiled by habitat loss, civil unrest, hunting for meat and the international trade in bone carvings, skins and trophies. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature elevated the threat level to giraffes from "least concern" to "vulnerable" on its "Red List of Threatened Species" in 2016.
Endangered Species Act protection would help curb imports of giraffe bones and other parts, increase funding for conservation efforts in Africa and raise public awareness of the animals' plight.
The U.S. provides a large market for giraffe parts. On average, the U.S. imports about one giraffe hunting trophy a day, and the country has imported more than 21,400 giraffe bone carvings over the past decade.
"Giraffe bones are becoming the new ivory, and the United States is heavily implicated in this deadly international trade," said Sanerib. "We're a big part of the problem, and Endangered Species Act protections for giraffes would help us be part of the solution."
Known for their six-foot-long necks, distinctive patterning and long eyelashes, giraffes have captured the human imagination for centuries. New research recently revealed that they live in complex societies, much like elephants, and have unique physiological traits, including the highest blood pressure of any land mammal.
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.
Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.