|Seized rhino horns at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.|
It has been recently reported that a total of seven countries may lose their privilege to legally trade endangered species after U.N conservation delegates came to an agreement on Thursday to punish them for lacking strict laws or failure to report on their illegal wildlife trade. These countries include Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Nepal, Paraguay, Rwanda, the Solomon Islands, and Syria, whose suspensions were favored by the consensus among the delegates will go into effect on October 1. According to Juan Carlos Vasquez, a spokesman for the U.N office that controls the agreement, the suspensions would prevent the seven countries from legally trading any of the 35,000 species managed by the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Committees to the week-long meeting of CITES in Geneva agreed to place suspensions on the seven countries based on their lack of national enactments for controlling the wildlife trade. The meeting's attendees also agreed to place suspensions based on the countries' failure to properly report what they are doing to regulate the lucrative trade, as required to do under the CITES treaty.
|Mountain gorilla in Virunga National Park|
However, it is said that the seven countries could avoid the penalties and losing the possibility of losing millions of dollars in commerce either by framing a required legislation or turning in missing annual reports to CITES by October 1. CITES states that about 97 percent of the species it controls are commercially traded for building materials, clothing, collections, food, forest products, fuel, health care, ornaments, religious items, trophy hunting, and other things. The other three percent are usually banned. It estimates that the controlled wildlife trade is between $350 million and $530 million a year, or almost $2.2 billion over four years from 2006 to 2010. During that time period, the logging of the big leaf mahogany estimated for $168 million in trade. By volume, American black bears, Malaysian box turtles, Senegal parrots, and South American gray foxes were among the most traded. The wildlife trade monitoring network, Traffic, estimates that the commercial trade of wildlife has increased sharply from around $160 billion a year in the early 1990s. But the multibillion-dollar trade is a growing problem, and environmentalists state that the reason is due to the nations' failure to conduct severe penalties for traffickers or implement wildlife laws that are already on the books. The delegates are expected to consider a proposal to resume legal ivory trade as an effort to stop the recent surge in Africa's elephant poaching. The proposal, which is asserted in a CITES-commissioned report, would establish a centralized system to allow for ivory sale from elephants that either died of natural causes or trophy hunting, or culled for ecological reasons. In addition to that, the rise in Africa's rhino poaching is also on the agenda.
|A pair of tigers in one of Vietnam's several tiger farms|
I'm very much surprised to see that a handful of countries are facing this unusual penalty of being disallowed to trade endangered species. Based on the article, the reasons for coming up with this punishment imposed on these nations is because they do not have stiff laws against the ongoing threat of the illegal wildlife trade and the failure to report any illicit activities related to this ongoing threat. I think this news should serve as a warning, as well as a wake-up call, for other countries around the world that have a similar reputation of enforcing weak laws against the wildlife trade and failing to report any activities related it. One of those could be Vietnam, whose so-called "tiger farms" have been labeled as major hubs for the illegal wildlife trade by the World Wildlife Fund. In addition to that, the delegates who had agreed to impose the penalties on these seven nations, have also started focusing on the resumption of the ivory trade as a way to battle elephant poaching in Africa. The objectives of this plan is to allow selling of ivory from elephants that have died either of natural causes, or as a result of trophy hunting and ecological culling. In my opinion, this plan should be looked over by the governments of various African countries where elephants live. Meanwhile, I believe the main objective is to target poachers and other operators of the illegal wildlife trade. In order to do so, various countries where the threat of poaching and wildlife smuggling persists should impose harsh penalties against these wildlife crimes and report any such activities. Otherwise, they would face similar consequences like these seven countries featured in this news.
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