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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Convention tasks environment ministers on illegal wildlife trade

THE Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has called on environment ministers to support the war against illegal wildlife trade, NaijaAgronet gathered.

The call was made in a statement issued by the secretariat of the ongoing UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, and made available to NaijaAgroNet.

According to the statement, the ministers should be at the fore front of addressing the ecosystem which is under threat from illegal wildlife trade.

The statement stressed that illegal wildlife trade had been an issue of priority in international conferences for the past three years.

``From the UN Security Council to the World Heritage Committee, there is recognition at the highest political levels of the economic, social, environmental and security impacts of this highly destructive criminal activity. The focus now has to be on the front line. This means even stronger law enforcement and demand-reduction efforts across multiple countries, to reverse the current dangerous trends. CITES decisions and compliance processes underpin the global effort.”

Secretary-General of CITES, John Scanlon was quoted as saying that, ``Ultimately, this fight will be won or lost on the front lines, whether in the field, the courtroom, or the market place but not in a conference room. We have had a lot of important high-level events over the past three years and we must now better focus our collective efforts on local, national and regional actions.

``The effects of illegal wildlife trade on natural assets were highlighted earlier this month when the World Heritage Committee added Selous Reserve in Tanzania to the `in danger’ list under the World Heritage Convention due to the impacts of poaching for illegal trade. Illegal logging, poaching and wildlife crimes have an impact on over 50 per cent of the Natural World Heritage Sites”.

According the statement, the effects of illegal wildlife trade on natural assets were highlighted earlier this month at the 38th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, held in Doha.

The statement further quoted Scanlon, as saying: ``We cannot allow poaching for the illegal trade in wildlife and the global crime syndicates behind it to destroy entire species.

``The world is losing the building blocks of our ecosystems that we all rely upon. ‘Africa’s elephants are also known as the ‘ecological engineers’ they disperse the seeds of the food they eat and are an essential part of healthy and diverse ecosystems.
``Healthy ecosystems also provide essential services for people from the provision of fresh water to wildlife-based tourism.’’

The statement, noted that both UNESCO and CITES had expressed concern over World Heritage sites across Africa that were suffering from a surge in poaching.
It said the organisations had expressed concern for poaching, especially for elephants, which is diminishing their natural heritage value and appeal as wildlife tourism destinations, which can have severe economic consequences.
``Half of the 14 African World Heritage sites monitored under the CITES Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) programme are now on the `in danger’ list.
``The CITES Secretariat is working with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to better protect these iconic sites.
``The degradation of World Heritage sites through poaching for illegal trade is destroying these beautiful wildlife-based tourism assets impoverishing local people and national economies as well as the world’s natural heritage,” the statement added.

Chukwudi Obi
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