New measures in place for trade in endangered species

Endangered species received new measures of protection after countries agreed to strengthen wildlife management, fight illegal trafficking and update trade rules for a wide range of plant and animal species, the United Nations environment agency said today. The 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which concluded today in Bangkok, moved to require export or trade permits for ramin trees and agarwood, great white sharks and humphead wrasses — two fish species of great commercial value — and banned all trade in the Irrawaddy dolphin.

From United Nations:

New measures in place for trade in endangered species

Endangered species received new measures of protection after countries agreed to strengthen wildlife management, fight illegal trafficking and update trade rules for a wide range of plant and animal species, the United Nations environment agency said today.

The 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which concluded today in Bangkok, moved to require export or trade permits for ramin trees and agarwood, great white sharks and humphead wrasses — two fish species of great commercial value — and banned all trade in the Irrawaddy dolphin.

Trade rules were also strengthened for a number of medicinal plants, including hoodia, used in diet pills; the desert-living cistanche, a natural tonic; and the Chinese yew tree, which boasts cancer-fighting properties.

On African elephants, the conference agreed to an ambitious action plan for cracking down on unregulated domestic markets in elephant ivory, which have been serving as major outlets for poached ivory, particularly in a number of African and Asian countries. Under the scheme, all African elephant range States will strengthen their legislation and their enforcement efforts, launch public awareness campaigns and report on progress by the end of March 2005.

The meeting also agreed that Namibia and South Africa may open up trophy hunting of the black rhino for the first time in many years, with an annual quota of five animals each. Swaziland may also open up strictly controlled hunting of its population of white rhino and export some live animals. The intent of these decisions is to allow the range States to manage their rhino herds more effectively and to earn income for rhino conservation.

On the sidelines of the meeting, 2004 quotas for caviar exports from the Caspian Sea were announced, as the five Caspian Sea States agreed to take stronger action on sturgeon conservation and illegal trade and harvesting.

”The Bangkok conference has crafted solutions to meet the particular needs of many wildlife species that are either endangered or that could become so if traded unsustainably,” said Willem Wijnstekers Secretary-General of CITES, which is administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

”These solutions seek to conserve the Earth’s rich heritage of biological diversity while supporting the sustainable development of local communities and national economies,” he said.


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