By PAMELA OWEN
The gentle giants are tracked down and killed so tourists can take home pictures showing they have killed the animals
Tourist trophy hunters are paying thousands of pounds to go and shoot giraffes with high-powered guns and bows. The gentle giants are loved around the world for their comical appearance and gentle nature.
Just like character 'Melman' played by Friend's-star David Schwimmer in Disney's Madagascar, they are a hit with kids who love their long necks and eyelashes.
But shocking images show how scores of big-spending men and women - and even families - travel from across the globe, some even from Britain, to kill them for sport.
Entire families go on the hunts and appear to relish having their pictures taken with the dead giraffe
Hunters pay up to a whopping £10,000 for the the chance to slay them - preferring bulls because they are the biggest.
Safari clubs and game reserves ask for a £1,500 trophy fee, and then add on rates for guides and trackers costing around £1,000 per day.
The hunts typically last three-to-five days and see tourists using .458 Winchester Magnum rifles to kill the animals.
With most hunters flying to Africa from their homes in Europe or America, the costs stretch into five figures.
The animals are near extinction and are no longer found in countries like Nigeria, Mali and Angola
The hunting continues even though numbers of the animals are plummeting.
But the world's leading giraffe expert said populations in the countries where it is legal - South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe - can cope with the killings.
The latest statistic show the number of giraffes in the world have nearly halved since 1988 from over 140,000 to less than 80,000.
Dr. Julian Fennessy produced the report for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Tourist hunters often take the skin home or get taxidermists to mount the heads so they can be taken home as trophies
Another recent IUCN report suggests the giraffe may already need to be listed as a threatened species - because some populations are being decimated in places like West Africa and DR Congo.
They are already thought to be extinct in Angola, Mali and Nigeria.
The hunts typically last three-to-five days and sees tourists using .458 Winchester Magnum rifles to kill the animals
'They might have a 'second gun' in the party whose job it is to take the animal down quickly if the tourist misses.
'But hunting guides need to asses the ability of the hunter and stop the hunt if they do not have the skills to do it humanely.'
Another factors decimating the giraffe population is poaching.
'Poaching is illegal and is not licensed,' said Dr. Fennessy.
'They set wire snares at giraffe-height in the trees to snare their necks, or to trap their feet and kill them when they return.
'It leads to huge suffering for the animals, sometimes for days.'
To help the Giraffe Conservation Foundation click here visit http://www.giraffeconservation.org/
It is legal to hunt the giraffes in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia - where they have greater numbers of giraffes
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Is this really fun for all the family? The giraffe hunters who pay £10,000 to shoot the gentle giants with guns and bows for sport
By PAMELA OWEN