TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Following complaints that the importation of 18 giraffes might violate international law, the Forestry Bureau will review the case, reports said Wednesday (July 7).
Tainan's Wanpi World Safari Zoo plan to import the animals from Taiwan’s only African diplomatic ally, Eswatini, had already received government approval, CNA reported.
However, animal rights activists, including giraffe expert Fred Bercovitch, called on the Forestry Bureau to revise its position, as it might be in violation of international laws restricting the trade in animals facing extinction. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has listed the giraffe as a rare animal requiring special protection.
According to Bercovitch, the type of giraffe involved in the deal, the reticulated giraffe, lives only in East Africa, 3,000 miles away from Eswatini, yet the small southern African country has not submitted any documents about the origin of the animals or their transport, casting doubt on the legality of the transaction.
Activists also pointed out the private zoo's poor record, where four out of five giraffes have died over the past decade. In the wild, the animals can reach the age of 27, while those at the zoo have at an average age of 10, activists said.