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.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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