On August 22, 2019, following a resolution that was passed at the meeting of the eighteenth Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES CoP 18), giraffe is now listed on CITES Appendix II. The move was initially put forward by the Central African Republic, Chad, Kenya, Mali, Niger and Senegal.
Based on existing management practices in certain African states, as well as scientific data which does not empirically justify this move, the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) was not in support of this decision.
CIC President, George Aman explained the reasoning of the CIC during his intervention at the CITES CoP. He mentioned that the current management of giraffe and all sub-species in the Southern African hemisphere, which includes the offtake by conservancy hunting, has been proven to be sustainable. This offtake has also had a positive effect on both habitat conservation and local giraffe populations, such as in Namibia and South Africa.
The new Appendix II listing prohibits the uncontrolled trade of all giraffe sub-species. It is important to remember that all subsequent trade of giraffe would have been originally sourced through legal and ethical means – whether that is through trophy hunting, natural deaths or animals culled for meat. Therefore, the CIC considers this type of trade to be sustainable, in addition to providing benefits to conservation efforts.
Moreover, in instances where giraffe populations are on the decline, this cannot be associated with international trade.
In response to this resolution, Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries have announced their official reservations against this decision, one which they believe to be scientifically unsustainable. This would mean that the Appendix II listing would not result in any new legal obligations for SADC countries.
The CIC is in full agreement with the unsustainable nature of this ruling, which may be detrimental to the future conservation efforts of giraffe and their habitats, and supports SADC countries in their official reservations.