Monday, March 25, 2013

The 2013 CITES Conference In Bangkok: No New Ground Broken?

Supposedly to take decisive action to halt the decline of tropical timber, sharks, manta rays and a wide range of endangered plants and animals, is the latest triennial CITES conference too ineffectual? 

By: Ringo Bones 

During the middle of March 2013, delegates from 170countries passed proposals upgrading protection for more than 50 species, but critics warn that loopholes allow trade in some critically endangered species remain unclosed even after 40 years after the CITES treaty was signed. The increasing affluence of the working class in Mainland China had also in recent times increased the demand in exotic animal parts for use in traditional Chinese medicine that are sourced from critically endangered species like tiger blood and rhino horn despite the dubious effectiveness of these products. Not to mention the recent increase in shark fin soup consumption by Mainland China’s new middle class.  

Near the end of the conference, Russia and the United States set aside their on-going political differences to band together in protecting the unregulated hunting and trading of polar bear and their associated products. Even though the two countries failed to achieve a comprehensive polar bear hunting ban, certain indigenous tribes in Canada’s North West Territories are allowed by law subsistence level hunting and trade of polar bear and polar bear products but both the Russian and US government had uncovered that during the past few years that commercial quantities of polar bear related products had been traded in their territories by Canadian North West Territory tribes that far exceed the subsistence hunting quota levels.   

When it comes to the illegal trade in ivory, the “Gang of 8” countries – i.e. Philippines, The People’s Republic of China, Thailand, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malaysia and Vietnam had since become a haven to illegal ivory traders that had been coddled by some high-ranking government officials that allow them to exploit ivory trading loopholes and profiting from the trade in ivory are now threatened with severe sanctions. Given the challenges, it seems like everyone concerned in the regulation and / or control in the trade of endangered wildlife parts are facing an uphill battle.