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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' at 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid