Conservation: Cites conference agrees to protect hundreds of species

natural reserve
Cites conference agrees to protect hundreds of species

A Filipino fisherman removes the fin from a blue shark in Santos City, Philippines. At the end of the CITES world species conference in Panama, the representatives of 184 countries confirmed a protection package for almost 100 shark and ray species. photo

© Ritchie Tongo/EPA/dpa

The trade in exotic animals in particular puts some species under severe pressure. Hundreds of species may now only be traded if their survival in nature is assured.

More than 470 wild species will be better protected in the future, especially the trade in sharks is to be more strictly controlled: At the end of the two-week CITES world species conference in Panama, the representatives of 184 countries passed a large protection package for animals and plants on Friday.

According to conservationists, the conference sent a clear signal to protect wild species from being overexploited by trade. The Cites Convention is a nearly 50-year-old treaty that regulates global trade in endangered species.

“The conference was a complete success, especially for marine animals. Around 90 percent of all internationally traded shark and ray species may only be traded if their stocks are not endangered,” said the environmental foundation WWF. Among other things, the trade ban on ivory made from elephant tusks and rhino horn was confirmed.

Clear sign against looting

“Governments at the Cites conference have shown that they are beginning to understand the effort required to deal with the crisis facing nature,” the International Fund for Animal Welfare said. “We are relieved that Cites has taken such a clear stand against the plundering of biodiversity,” said Pro Wildlife’s Daniela Freyer.

Under Cites, animal and plant species are divided into protection categories of varying severity in order to ensure their survival in nature. Trade is then either strictly regulated or banned entirely. More than 38,000 species have already been listed.

The main decisions of the Panama conference were:

SHARKS AND RAYS: Animal rights activists welcomed the decision as historic: the trade in around 100 species of sharks and rays will be more strictly controlled. Newly protected were 54 ground shark species, six small hammerhead shark species and 37 small guitarfish species. As a result, 90 percent of the species traded for their fins and meat will be protected in the future. So far, only a quarter of them have been protected, especially the larger ones.

ELEPHANTS: In the dispute over elephants, everything stays the same. Most important point for conservationists: The global trade ban on ivory has been confirmed. “Species protection has prevailed,” said WWF representative Arnulf Köhncke. A request for stricter protection for elephants from southern Africa was rejected. Before that, Pro Wildlife was disappointed.

EXOTIC ANIMALS: Frogs, turtles and lizards also came under the protective umbrella of Cites. Global trade has been restricted or even banned for a good 30 reptile and 160 amphibian species. In particular, closer surveillance of 158 species of glass frogs will be crucial to curbing the fast-growing trade in exotic pets, according to the International Animal Welfare Fund Ifaw.

RHINOS: The trade in rhino horn remains prohibited. In addition, Namibia will in future be allowed to sell live animals for conservation purposes within its range in Africa. For Pro Wildlife, this weakened rhino protection in Namibia. According to the WWF, however, the decision can benefit ailing populations across the continent.

SEA CUCUMBERS: All three sea cucumber species of the genus Thelenota from the Indo-Pacific region have been protected. They may now only be traded if their survival in nature is assured. This decision enables sustainable trade while safeguarding marine biodiversity, the Ifaw said. According to experts, there are more than 1200 species of these animals, only four of which have already been listed.


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