In­sa­tiable con­sump­tion threat­en­ing Africa’s species

Africa Renewal - - Africa Watch - By Jo­ce­lyne Sam­bira

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.

Alamy/Agencja Fo­tograficzna Caro

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.

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