The Giraffe, (Giraffa camelopardalis) is the world's tallest land mammal and remains widespread across southern and eastern Africa, with smaller isolated populations in west and central Africa. Giraffes inhabit eighteen African countries and have been reintroduced to three others (Malawi, Rwanda, and Eswatini).
In 2016 the Giraffe was assessed by the Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable due to past (and ongoing) population decline of 36-40% over three generations (30 years, 1985-2015). The factors causing this decline (levels of exploitation and decline in area of occupancy and habitat quality) have not ceased and may not be reversible throughout the species’ range.
This species is scheduled under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which allows only regulated international trade to ensure that trade is not detrimental to wild populations, and that the specimens in trade are legally acquired. All imports and exports require authorisation.
As a key component of risk assessment for import into Tasmania, conventional climate modelling was applied to compare the state’s environment with the species’ natural range in Africa. CLIMATCH revealed “low” potential for suitable habitat across the entire state, indicating little or no probability that the Giraffe could survive in the wild.
The Giraffe is classified as “suitable for live import (into Australia) with an import permit” (EPBC Act 1999) for “Eligible non-commercial purposes only”, i.e. by zoological parks. Captive populations are actively managed through the IUCN Survival Program (SSP) and Australasia’s Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA).
The risk assessment determined the Giraffe to be moderately dangerous to humans, having a low establishment risk and with a moderate consequence of establishment. It was therefore proposed the species be assigned to the “moderate” threat category.
Following the initial risk assessment, the Department considers permitting the importation of animals assessed as ‘moderate risk’ into the State as long as appropriate mitigation measures, enforced through a wildlife exhibition licence, can be identified and applied.
Mitigation options to reduce the risk associated with importing the Giraffe include:
- Limiting importation to registered wildlife parks or zoos to ensure the holding facility meets the stringent keeping standards Tasmania applies to all institutions.
- Requiring any wildlife park or zoo to submit a Giraffe species management plan (including enclosure details) prior to import.
- Requiring the wildlife exhibition facility to have proficient keepers for that particular species.