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World wildlife conference opens in South Africa
September 25, 2016, 9:38 am

An elephant roams the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The illegal ivory trade as well as animal trafficking is the fourth largest criminal activity in the world, the EU says [Xinhua]

An elephant roams the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The illegal ivory trade as well as animal trafficking is the fourth largest criminal activity in the world, the EU says [Xinhua]


South African President Jacob Zuma on Saturday opened the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg, a gathering which will discuss key wildlife conservation issues.

The conference is set to last until October 5.

Zuma said that many wildlife species will become extinct if illegal trafficking is not checked and regulated, expressing South Africa’s commitment to working with the international community to preserve wildlife.

“You are all here because your countries agree that legal international trade in wildlife, particularly in endangered species, requires regulation, monitoring, enforcement and international collaboration,” Zuma said adding that “global governance” is critical to ensure their success.

It has almost been 20 years since an African country hosted a meeting of the COP to CITES. But this is also the first time that the European Union (EU) participates as a full member of CITES.

In a press release on the eve of the conference, the EU emphasized that it will “seek stricter international measures against wildlife trafficking, in line with the EU action plan on wildlife trafficking”.

The EU says it strongly supports the continued ban on trade in ivory and will stress during the conference that it is crucial CITES adopt the strongest possible measures against ivory trafficking, “as well as trafficking affecting rhinoceroses, tigers, great apes, pangolins and rosewood”.

John Scanlon, CITES Secretary General, said there has been increasing political interest and funding towards wildlife preservation.

“Elephants, rhino, and lions are likely to headline the agenda of this meeting, which is shaping up to be the most important gathering to date that focuses on wildlife trade and conservation,” said US Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe.

The conference delegates are also likely to hear conflicting proposal at this year’s CITES.

While some want to see ivory stockpiles destroyed, and others want to see a permanent ban on its trade, others – such as South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia – are likely to jointly propose legalizing the ivory trade.

Illegal wildlife trafficking is considered the fourth highest criminal activity in the world. The EU estimates that up to $20 billion is made through this illegal trade.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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