A decline in the population of giraffes has prompted five wildlife groups to petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday, asking the organization to classify the animal as an endangered species.
The population of the world’s tallest mammal has dropped from approximately 150,000 in 1985 to less than 100,000, NPR reported.
The wildlife groups claim the giraffe is facing increasing threats from habitat loss, illegal hunting for bush meat and an international trade in trophies and bone carvings.
Giraffes aren't native to the U.S., but FWS classifies foreign species, too, NPR reported.
Jeffrey Flocken is regional director for International Fund for Animal Welfare, one of the groups behind the petition. He said that from 2006 to 2015, the U.S. was responsible for importing 3,744 giraffe hunting trophies.
“The biggest reason to petition to list it under the U.S. Endangered Species Act,” Flocken told NPR, “is while we can't stop people from killing species in other countries, we can stop them bringing the parts back to the United States. So if this were successful, it would either limit or outright stop import of giraffe parts.”
FWS would not comment or confirm receipt of the petition, NPR reported.