WWF pushes CITES toward bold action to protect threatened species
Gland, Switzerland - WWF is urging governments to recognize the scale of threat posed by international wildlife crime, and to reaffirm core scientific values in the decision-making process at the 16th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, next March.
“Numerous international bodies, such as INTERPOL and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, have acknowledged the seriousness of environmental crime, including illicit wildlife trafficking,” says Dr Carlos Drews, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme. “Wildlife poaching and trafficking exacerbates regional conflicts and is frequently associated with other serious crimes, such as murder, corruption and money-laundering.”
“The ongoing elephant poaching crisis in Central Africa and the rising death toll for rhinos in South Africa are indicative of wider legislative and enforcement failings. CITES needs to face up to the scale of the crisis and use the teeth that governments have given it,” Drews said.
With this in mind, WWF is urging CITES to direct its attention to countries that are failing to comply with CITES rules relating to elephants. Similarly on rhinos, WWF is pressing for resolute action against countries that are failing to implement CITES rules.
With regard to proposals to add new species to the list of those whose trade is regulated by CITES, WWF is urging governments to support all proposals relating to sharks and manta rays.
“These species take a long time to reach maturity and produce relatively few young in their lifetime so they are extremely vulnerable to overfishing,” says Dr. Colman O Criodain, Wildlife Trade Policy Analyst for WWF.
Hammerhead, oceanic whitetip and porbeagle sharks are in high demand for the Chinese fin market. The meat of porbeagle is also highly prized. Manta rays are sought after for their gill plates, which are used in Chinese medicine.
“CITES failed to act to regulate hammerheads, whitetip and porbeagle at its last CoP three years ago despite near-unanimous expert opinion that these measures were warranted,” O Criodain said. “Our message to governments this time is to stick to the science and do the right thing for these species.”
WWF would also like to see CITES move to regulate trade in Madagascar’s ebony and rosewood species, which have been decimated in recent years by illegal logging.
“Without such regulation, the future for Madagascar’s forests looks bleak,” says O Criodain.
WWF is also urging support for proposals to tighten trade rules for Latin American rosewood species, and for freshwater turtles and tortoises in North America and Asia. It is also supporting other cross-cutting initiatives to improve CITES implementation, including a proposed suite of rules for treatment of CITES-listed species caught on the high seas.