Sunday, 8 May 2016

Europe to crack down on wildlife smugglers to protect rare lizard species

EU proposal seeks to close a legal loophole allowing the sale of endangered lizards in Europe after a Guardian article revealed the scale of the problem

Thursday 5 May 201607.00 BST Last modified on Thursday 5 May 201622.00 BST

Europe has moved to close a loophole that allows wildlife smugglers to trade in several endangered lizard species, after revelations by the Guardian about the scale of the problem.
An EU proposal to strictly regulate the trade in arboreal alligator lizards (Abronia), backed by Mexico, will be debated at the Convention on international trade in endangered species (Cites) conference, which opens in Johannesburg this autumn.

Another EU motion supported by Vietnam would ban the buying and selling of psychedelic geckos (Cnemaspis psychedelica) while a separate Malaysiansubmission would bring earless monitor lizards (Lanthanotus borneensis) under Cites protection.

The lizards are protected species in their home countries but once they have been smuggled outside national borders, their sale may not be illegal because Cites has not listed them yet.
Sandra Altherr, the co-founder of the conservation group Pro Wildlife, whosereports put the issue on the political map, is confident the new proposals will be passed.

“This marks a significant step towards better protecting these species from exploitation for the pet trade,” she said. “While we appreciate the EU proposals though, it is obvious that the core problem still exists for other species that are only protected in their range states. The EU needs to adopt legislation to cover all nationally protected species – an equivalent to the US Lacey act.”

The Lacey Act, which has been in force since 1900, allows US authorities to prosecute wildlife smugglers for actions carried out in other countries.

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