Species set to benefit from latest CITES summit
New protection will guard against trade in animal parts and exotic pets.
Conservationists are celebrating a major victory for elephants following the decision at an international wildlife summit to impose a near-total ban on sending young African elephants captured from the wild to zoos.
Botswana and Zimbabwe have been under fire for being the main providers for young, wild African elephants to zoos in China and around the world.
“This measure should help to bring an end to the trade in young elephants that are ripped from their families and shipped to zoos, where they are condemned to live shortened and often lonely and barren lives,” says Dr Mark Jones from the wildlife charity Born Free.
The decision to virtually outlaw the trade in elephants was taken at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), an international treaty formed in 1973 to regulate the global trade of threatened wildlife.
With members from 183 countries and rules covering over 35,000 species of wild plants and animals, the CITES summit takes place every three years.
Whilst there was some welcome news for African elephants during the summit this summer, it was a mixed picture for
Africa’s rhinos. A proposal to reopen up the trade in southern white rhino horns from Eswatini ( formerly Swaziland) and Namibia was rejected. However, South Africa got the goahead to almost double the number of black rhinos that can be shot by trophy hunters. The controversial decision means that nine rhinos a year can now be killed, and the money raised will be used to support the conservation of the Critically Endangered species.
Meanwhile, the summit responded positively to the crisis now facing giraffes – whose population has plunged by about 40 per cent since 1985 – by granting them new protection.
Similarly, the plight of the saiga was acknowledged by the banning of all international trade in saiga horn. The antelope once ranged in their millions across Eurasia but its population has now crashed to critical levels.
The Indian star tortoise, tokay gecko, Asian small-clawed otter and smoothcoated otter were among other species to benefit from protection. Simon Birch
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Bans in place for African elephants ( pictured) and saigas ( below).