Nearly 40,000 giraffe parts and products have been imported into the U.S. in the last 10 years, according to a new report, and it's contributing to their "silent extinction."
Giraffe parts were recently found for sale across the U.S. at more than 52 locations as part of a widespread investigation conducted by Humane Society International (HSI) in early 2018.
Investigators from the group, the international branch of the Humane Society of the United States, found a variety of giraffe products, including boots made from giraffe leather, knives made with giraffe bone, giraffe hide pillows and taxidermied "trophies," in addition to giraffe skin bible covers and furniture, according to the report.
The products can be sold at a hefty price — with a giraffe hide going for approximately $4,000 and a full taxidermied giraffe trophy costing around $8,000. Knives featuring giraffe bones could sell for hundreds, while a bracelet made of hair from a giraffe tail could cost $10.
The group stated that some sellers of giraffe products portray the tallest animal in the world as "dangerous" and that the creatures were killed by African villagers who were trying to defend themselves.
The wild giraffe population, according to HSI, has declined nearly 40 percent since 1990, mainly due to "habitat loss and illegal hunting for the bushmeat trade," and trophy hunting.
The 40,000 giraffe parts and products imported into the country across the last decade are believed to have come from roughly 4,000 individual giraffes.
Giraffes are not currently listed on U.S. Fish and Wildlife's list of endangered species, but HSI — along several other groups — submitted a petition to the federal agency in April 2017 to consider the animals threatened or endangered. According to HSI, Fish and Wildlife has not yet responded to the request.
The animal protection group issued a statement in July in response to an American woman who took photos of herself posing with a dead giraffe, which she trophy hunted. Killing an animal for sport, "is a sheer display of arrogant disregard for the imperiled status of this iconic species," the group said.
"With the giraffe’s population decline at 40 percent over the last 30 years, they need all of the protection they can get," HSI said. "Giraffes are facing a myriad of threats including poaching and habitat fragmentation. Their dire conservation status should not be further compounded by the horror of trophy hunters bent on killing them for senseless and gruesome trophies."