News / Africa

Conservation Group Tackles Illegal Ivory, Timber Trade

FILE - Masanori Miyahara, head of Japan's delegation and the country's top fisheries official, right, shakes hands with Patrick van Klaveren, head of the Monaco delegation, during a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (
FILE - Masanori Miyahara, head of Japan's delegation and the country's top fisheries official, right, shakes hands with Patrick van Klaveren, head of the Monaco delegation, during a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (
Lisa Schlein

A meeting of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species or CITES is threatening to sanction two countries-Thailand and Madagascar--if they do not take action to stop the illegal trade in ivory and timber.   A record 400 participants attended this week-long meeting in Geneva.
 
This international meeting on wildlife trade is putting Thailand and Madagascar on notice they will pay a heavy price if they do not take measures to end the illegal trade in ivory and Rosewood timber.  
 
CITES, the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species, says yearly profits from the illegal trade in wildlife amounts to about $20 billion.  But, that huge sum is dwarfed by the hundreds of billions of dollars raked in each year from the illegal trade in commercially valuable timber and fisheries or marine life.
 
Conservationists say this lucrative illegal trade has reached unprecedented levels and must be stemmed.  They note Thailand's ivory market, which is the largest unregulated market in the world, is fueled by ivory from poached African elephant tusks smuggled into the country.  
 
CITES figures show poachers kill more than 20,000 African elephants each year.  Chair of CITES Standing Committee, Oystein Storkersen, says the Conference has told Thailand it must strictly enforce its legislation against illegal trade in wildlife or face serious consequences.
 
'They were given a set deadline to report back to the Standing Committee and we also heard at the meeting that unless there is a positive outcome of that tightening as I said registration of importers, traders, producers and so on, and stockpiles then Thailand will face a ban, a suspension of all trade, no matter what commodities it is of the 35,000 species listed with CITES.  I think that is a very strong signal to send to a country," said Storkersen.
 
Possible sanctions would affect Thailand's lucrative trade in species including ornamental plants, such as orchids, and reptile leather.  Activists welcome this action.  They say the world has taken a big step toward saving the last African elephants from extinction.
 
The meeting also has taken steps to curtail the illegal trade in rhino horn in Vietnam and Mozambique.  These two countries also were put on notice they could face sanctions if they do not take measures to stamp out this illegal trade.
 
The CITES committee has analyzed the levels of illegal trade in precious timber and the enforcement measures taken by customs in several transit countries.  It estimates more than 4,000 tons of rosewood, which is suspected to have been illegally exported from Madagascar, has been seized in various countries.  
European Union Representative, Giovanni Coviello, says the scale of the illegal logging and trade from Madagascar has reached alarming levels.
 
"We are all sadly aware, I can say that illegal logging accounts for up to 30 percent of the global timber trade and it contributes to more than 50 percent of tropical deforestation in the Central Africa as well as in the Amazon and in South-East Asia.  We know that this causes huge loss of landscape, vegetation cover and biodiversity naturally.  We know that one of the direct environmental impacts of illegal logging in Madagascar is the habitat destruction of many species, especially for the endangered lemurs," said Coviello.
 
The next CITES meeting takes place in August 2015.  All countries put on notice will have to submit progress reports before that date.  But, they will have to develop national action plans to curb the illegal trade in wildlife projects by the August deadline or face sanctions.

 

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs