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.
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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs