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201223Jul16:35

Coun­tries fail to pro­tect endan­gered species from ille­gal trade

Infor­ma­tion
pub­lished 23 July 2012 | mod­i­fied 25 July 2012
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Poor per­for­mances by key coun­tries in the fight against ille­gal wildlife trade are threat­en­ing the sur­vival of wild rhi­nos, tigers and ele­phants, a new WWF report has found.

The analy­sis, released as gov­ern­ments gather in Geneva this week to dis­cuss a range of issues related to wildlife trade, rates 23 of the top African and Asian nations fac­ing high lev­els of poach­ing and traf­fick­ing in ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts.

The report, enti­tled Wildlife Crime Score­card: Assess­ing Com­pli­ance with and Enforce­ment of CITES Com­mit­ments for Tigers, Rhi­nos and Ele­phants, exam­ines of the many coun­tries con­sid­ered as range, tran­sit or con­sumer coun­tries for these species. It gives coun­tries scores of green, yel­low or red for each ani­mal, as applic­a­ble, as an indi­ca­tor of recent progress. WWF has found that ille­gal trade per­sists in vir­tu­ally all 23 coun­tries reviewed, but the score­card seeks to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between coun­tries where it is actively being coun­tered from those where cur­rent efforts are entirely inad­e­quate.

Asian demand dri­ves poaching

It is time for Viet Nam to face the fact that its ille­gal con­sump­tion of rhino horn is dri­ving the wide­spread poach­ing of endan­gered rhi­nos in Africa, and that it must crack down on the ille­gal rhino horn trade. Viet Nam should review its penal­ties and imme­di­ately cur­tail retail mar­kets, includ­ing Inter­net adver­tis­ing for horn
Elis­a­beth McLel­lan, Global Species Pro­gramme man­ager at WWF »

Among the worst per­form­ers is Viet Nam that received two red scores, for rhi­nos and tigers. Viet Nam is iden­ti­fied in the report as the top des­ti­na­tion coun­try for rhino horn, which has fuelled a poach­ing cri­sis in South Africa. A record 448 South African rhi­nos were killed for their horns in 2011 and the coun­try, which itself receives a yel­low for rhi­nos, has lost an addi­tional 262 already this year. Accord­ing to the report, many Viet­namese have been arrested or impli­cated in South Africa for acquir­ing rhino horns ille­gally, includ­ing Viet­namese diplomats.

Inad­e­quate enforce­ment of domes­tic ivory mar­kets in China is also high­lighted in the report. China receives a yel­low score for ele­phants indi­cat­ing a fail­ure by the coun­try to effec­tively police its legal ivory mar­kets. “The ongo­ing flow of large vol­umes of ille­gal ivory to China sug­gests that such ivory may be mov­ing into legal ivory trade chan­nels,” the report says.

China is urged to dra­mat­i­cally and con­sis­tently improve its enforce­ment con­trols for ivory and to com­mu­ni­cate to Chi­nese nation­als in Africa that any­one caught import­ing ille­gal wildlife prod­ucts into China would be pros­e­cuted, and if con­victed, severely penalized.

Poach­ing cri­sis across Africa

In Thai­land, ille­gal African ivory is being openly sold in up-​scale bou­tiques that cater to unsus­pect­ing tourists. Gov­ern­ments will be tak­ing up this trou­bling issue this week. So far Thai­land has not responded ade­quately to con­cerns and, with the amount of ivory of uncer­tain ori­gin in cir­cu­la­tion, the only cred­i­ble option at this stage is a ban on ivory trade
Elis­a­beth McLellan »

Tens of thou­sands of African ele­phants are being killed by poach­ers each year for their tusks and China and Thai­land are top des­ti­na­tions for ille­gal African ivory. Thai­land receives a red score for its fail­ure to close a legal loop­hole that makes it easy for retail­ers to sell ivory from poached African elephants.

Ele­phant poach­ing is at cri­sis lev­els in Cen­tral Africa, where rhi­nos were likely poached to extinc­tion. Last year wit­nessed the ele­phant high­est poach­ing rates across the con­ti­nent since records began. Early this year hun­dreds of ele­phants were killed in a sin­gle inci­dent in a Cameroon national park. “Given the esca­la­tion of ele­phant poach­ing in Africa and the increased lev­els of orga­nized crime involved in the trade, it is clear that the sit­u­a­tion is now crit­i­cal,” the report found.

dead-elephant withoutheadWildlife crime not only poses a threat to ani­mals, but is a risk to peo­ple, ter­ri­to­r­ial integrity, sta­bil­ity and rule of law. Regional coop­er­a­tion is needed in Cen­tral Africa to counter the flows of ille­gal ivory and arms spilling across bor­ders. WWF com­mends Cen­tral African gov­ern­ments for sign­ing a regional wildlife law enforce­ment plan and urges them to make its imple­men­ta­tion a top pri­or­ity, allo­cat­ing resources to the plan and improv­ing the effi­cacy of pros­e­cu­tions for those impli­cated in poach­ing or ille­gal trade.

“Although most Cen­tral African coun­tries receive yel­low or red scores for ele­phants, there are some encour­ag­ing sig­nals. Last month Gabon burned its entire ivory stock­pile, to ensure that no tusks would leak into ille­gal trade, and Pres­i­dent Ali Bongo com­mit­ted to both increas­ing pro­tec­tions in the country’s parks and to ensur­ing that those com­mit­ting wildlife crimes are pros­e­cuted and sent to prison,” said WWF Global Species Pro­gramme man­ager Wendy Elliott.

A haunt­ing but dis­turb­ing video, titled “Dying for Ivory”, pro­duced by Ele­phant Advo­cacy as a con­tri­bu­tion to the sal­va­tion of the African Elephant:


Best per­form­ers

Other bright spots from the report are green scores for India and Nepal for each of the three species groups. In 2011, Nepal cel­e­brated a year with­out any rhino poach­ing inci­dents, which was largely attrib­uted to improve­ments to anti-​poaching and other law enforce­ment efforts.

WWF’s Wildlife Crime Score­card is being released as mem­ber coun­tries of the Con­ven­tion on Inter­na­tional Trade in Endan­gered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) hold their annual Stand­ing Com­mit­tee meet­ing. The con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tion is set to launch a global cam­paign to fight ille­gal wildlife trade, which is putting the future of ele­phants, rhi­nos and tigers at risk.

Learn more at WWF’s Wildlife Trade Cam­paign.

The above news item is reprinted from mate­ri­als avail­able at WWF and Wildlife Pic­tures Online. Orig­i­nal text may be edited for con­tent and length.

(Source: WWF, 23.07.2012; Wildlife Pic­tures Online, 2011)

UN Biodiversity decade

Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.

about zoos and their mis­sion regard­ing breed­ing endan­gered species, nature con­ser­va­tion, bio­di­ver­sity and edu­ca­tion, which of course relates to the evo­lu­tion of species.
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