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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid