Insatiable consumption threatening Africa’s species
That precious red timber furniture that’s to die for? Chances are it is made from endangered African rosewood and may have been smuggled out of the continent. The same goes for that crocodile leather handbag in the closet that is helping poachers sustain a billiondollar business.
Some 6,400 animals and over 3,000 plants in Africa were listed in 2014 as facing extinction by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Furthermore, according to the United Nations Environment Programme ( UNEP), over three million hectares of forests are being lost each year to feed a growing population on the continent as well as meet international demands for biofuels.
The insatiable appetite for these products does not come from the fashion industry only. Over-harvesting for trade is another threat to wildlife and plant species. The freshwater tilapia fish is the
6,400 animals in Africa were listed in 2014 as facing extinction by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
most targeted for food in Africa. Orchids and the aloe vera medicinal plant are also threatened with local or total extinction because of their popularity in western markets.
UNEP warns that the illegal wildlife trade as well as the demand and consumption of natural resources are some of the factors behind Africa’s ongoing loss of biodiversity. Pollution created by urbanization and industrialization is another cause.
The agency recently released a preview of its upcoming report, the State of Biodiversity in Africa, calling on the leaders of the continent to address these challenges through increased law enforcement, implementing conservation efforts at a larger scale and strengthening the links between wildlife management and community development.
The Global Biodiversity Outlook report produced by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a global agreement to protect nature and to allow nations to get a fair share of its benefits, has similar findings.
The spokesperson for the CBD Secretariat, David Ainsworth, told
Africa Renewal that the report paints a “sobering picture” but that positive steps were being taken on the ground. “We are seeing that where we get communities to come together and manage local resources or when you get different levels of government collaborating together they can actually address some of these biodiversity challenges and turn the tide.”
African countries are taking steps by partnering with their neighbours to address biodiversity loss, but the clock is ticking fast.
Fashion models wearing clothes made from animal fur. Many fashion designers work with fur, helping sustain an illegal trade that is behind the deaths of millions of animals for their skins.