Pal Ellis—Getty/AFP
April 21, 2017 12:22 PM EDT

Five wildlife groups are pushing for giraffes to be included on the endangered species list through a petition that was sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday.

The giraffe population declined by 40% over the past 30 years, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. There are 97,000 giraffes in the wild, which is down from the estimated 151,000 to 163,000 that existed in 1985, according to the council.

The NRDC maintains that the declining population is a result of “giraffe hunting for bushmeat, habitat destruction and fragmentation and the international trade in giraffe bone carvings and hunting trophies.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature released a report that said giraffes were “vulnerable” to extinction in 2016.

“Losing one of the continent’s iconic species would be an absolute travesty,” NRDC Deputy Director Elly Pepper told USA Today. “Giving giraffes Endangered Species Act protections would be a giant step in the fight to save them from extinction.”

The petition adds that there are actually fewer giraffes than elephants in the Africa in its petition to protect the tallest land animal.

Contact us at

Read More From TIME

Related Stories