News / Asia

Global Conference Seeks to Boost Wildlife Protection

Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is seen walking on stage before opening the CITES meeting in Bangkok March 3, 2013.Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is seen walking on stage before opening the CITES meeting in Bangkok March 3, 2013.
x
Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is seen walking on stage before opening the CITES meeting in Bangkok March 3, 2013.
Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is seen walking on stage before opening the CITES meeting in Bangkok March 3, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ron Corben
— An international conference in Thailand is seeking to curb the illegal trade in wildlife, especially rhino horn and ivory, as thousands of African elephants are being slaughtered each year. The forum comes amid ever growing calls for greater political will from governments to stem the multimillion dollar trade.

The two week meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which opened Sunday, is facing debate over 70 proposals to boost global protection for wildlife and flora.

These include the conservation and sustainable use of marine species, especially several types of shark, along with timber, freshwater turtles, frogs, crocodiles, and the long haired vicuna population of Ecuador.

Several shark species that are under threat are being listed for protection. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says up to 100 million sharks are killed each year, largely for their fins.

Added protection is also being sought for polar bears, now facing threats from climate change and killing by hunters.

But the rising toll in the illegal killing of the African elephant and rhinos to meet demand in Asian markets has led activists and governments to intensify calls for action.

Adam Roberts, a member of a global coalition - the Species Survival Network - and a U.S.-based animal conservation group, says the current conference in Thailand must address what he says is the “precipitous” decline in animal species.

“When we look at the state of wildlife conservation around the world today and we realize that there are some 21,000 white rhinos left in Africa and 35-hundred tigers left in Asia today; we’d better act fast in the next two weeks to prevent the precipitous decline that so many of these wild animals and plants face.”

Thailand is a key transit country for the illegal ivory trade. In the opening address to the conference, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said her country will tighten local laws in a bid to end the ivory trade.

In Africa, CITES says armed groups in northern Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo are involved in the large-scale slaughter of elephants.

With outlook grim, greater will needed

John Scanlon, secretary-general of CITES, says the outlook remains grim for the African elephant.

“In 2011, our estimate, based on all the data and analysis that we do, is that 25,000 African elephants or in that order were illegally killed on the African continent in 2011.  We’re still analyzing the figure for 2012 but it looks like it’s no better and possibly worse. So we’re dealing with a significant escalation in the illegal killing and we need to take significant measures to stop that.”

In 2010, steps to combat illegal wildlife trafficking led to the formation of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime. It brings together five inter-governmental organizations - CITES, the international police organization Interpol, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Customs Organization and the World Bank.

Scanlon says while the coordination is necessary, greater political will from governments is also required to combat the trade.

“So you have a response that’s more commensurate with the scale of the risk. It’s still a long way to go. We believe that we know what we need to do. The issue is, do governments have the collective will to take this on in a way that we need to if we are going to win it?”

Activists say while the conference is likely to adopt most proposals for greater protection for flora and fauna, moves to provide greater protection for sharks will face resistance, especially from Japan and China.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid