|CITES Missed Opportunities for Tigers, Elephants and Rhinos: NGOs
14 March 2013
global treaty charged with ensuring wildlife is not commercially
exploited to extinction fell short of putting the breaks on poaching
of elephants, tigers, and rhinos at its biannual meeting that closes
today in Bangkok.
Poaching and trafficking of elephants, tigers
and rhinos is at crisis levels, yet domestic trade is still allowed and
international trade in the body parts of these critically endangered
animals is still being negotiated.
Some experts and governments
are sending mixed messages to consumers, traders, and the law
enforcement community,” said Steven Galster of FREELAND. “They
are advocating for demand reduction efforts on one hand, while
discussing legalisation of trade in endangered species on the
other. It's like putting water on one side of the fire of
extinction, and gas on the other.
The bans on international
commercial trade in products made from elephants, rhinos and tigers
initially worked well, allowing all three species to rebound in
wild. Unfortunately, approval and continued negotiations of
so-called “limited legal trade” in elephants and rhinos has rekindled
what had been a dying market for ivory and rhino horn. Trade in
tiger skins and bones is also still going on in China, permitting legal
trade in skins from captive-bred tigers to supply a growing luxury
market for exotic home décor.
“Trade bans work – unless they are
sabotaged,” said Avinash Basker of the Wildlife Protection Society of
India. In Basker’s home country India, the demand for elephant
ivory for use in making religious items and wedding bangles has been
drastically reduced thanks to the government’s laws, law enforcement
and public-outreach efforts.