Monday, 10 October 2016

The seven big decisions made at the Cites global wildlife summit

A major meeting on the regulation of trade in endangered species is drawing to a close in Johannesburg - here are seven of its key hits and misses
Bibi van der Zee, Johannesburg
Wednesday 5 October 2016 17.19 BST Last modified on Thursday 6 October 2016 11.19 BST

Sadly for the pangolin, the tough brown scales that so neatly tile its body are in huge demand for medicinal purposes, while the flesh that they protect is also appreciated as a delicacy in Vietnam and some parts of China. Earlier this month, conservationists warned of the devastating decline in pangolin populations. Cites followed up by putting all pangolin species into the highest category of protection.

Grey parrot
Cheers and applause greeted the decision to finally ban the international trade in wild African grey parrot. This beautiful and highly intelligent creature – one study found that they are capable of the same logical reasoning as a four-year old human – has been heavily hunted in the central and western African countries where they are native. The birds are hugely popular around the world as pets, but their numbers in the wild have dwindled, with Ghana estimated to have lost 90-99% of its wild population. The conference voted to move the parrot into Appendix I – the highest level of protection.

With its distinctive dark auburn sheen, rosewood is loved by consumers who snap up luxury rosewood furniture in China. But the explosion in demand – the market has grown 65 times since 2005 and is now worth $2.2bn a year – is having a devastating impact on the forests in South-East Asia where the rosewood tree grows, and traffickers are now looking for sources in Africa and Central America. By a consensus decision, the Cites conference placed all 300 types of rosewood under trade restrictions.

A proposal from Swaziland that would have allowed it to sell its 330kg stockpile of horn in order, it said, to use the money to help support rhino conservation work, was defeated. As a recent Guardian investigation revealed, international criminal networks are making millions by smuggling rhino horn out of Kenya and South Africa into Asia where it is used for so-called medicinal purposes. There is a misplaced belief that rhino horn can increase fertility.

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