(CN) – The graceful giraffe and an Arizona wildflower inched closer to receiving endangered protection status, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services agreed Thursday to study threats to the species.
Native to the African continent, the giraffe has faced poaching, human warfare and habitat loss over the last three decades which has decreased the giraffe’s population by approximately 40%.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, Humane Society of the United States and the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the federal government in April 2017 to add the giraffe to the endangered species list.
The groups say the United States plays a role in protecting the giraffe because of the amount of poached giraffe parts that are imported to the U.S. through the black market. The groups claim in the last decade 21,400 bone carvings, 3,000 skin pieces and 3,700 hunting trophies were imported to the U.S.
Anna Frostic, an attorney for the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, says the U.S. imports more than one giraffe trophy a day along with other body parts from the animal. Knife makers and gunsmiths use giraffe bone for handles, while their skins are used to adorn furniture and clothing, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
“The federal government must now expeditiously take stock of the role we are playing in giraffe decline and how we can work to instead save these unique animals,” said Frostic.
A lawsuit in 2018 followed the group’s petition, to force a response from the federal government.
Meanwhile, the eryngo or ribbonleaf button snakeroot – a wildflower from southern Arizona – will also be reviewed to determine if it warrants protection. The plant only grows in a specific type of wetland, and most of these types of habitats have been lost.
Found along the San Pedro River, the eryngo is at risk due to overpumping of groundwater to support new developments. Reaching heights of over five feet, the carrot relative is considered one of the most endangered plants in the state.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife will have a year to determine if giraffes and the eryngo should be given protection status.