Pitara Kids Network

International Conservation Meet on Animal Trade

Where: Doha, Qatar

March 25, 2010 : The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) took place in Doha, Qatar, between March 13 and 25, 2010. The representatives of 175 member nations attended. They held discussions on several animal species that are in danger of becoming extinct because of trade, both legal and illegal.

CITES secretary-general Willem Wijnstekers said, “If we use tiger numbers as a performance indicator, then we must admit that we have failed miserably and that we are continuing to fail.” Tiger numbers have dropped because of many factors. One is human encroachment. Another is the loss of nine-tenths of their habitat. Poaching and illegal trade in tiger parts have contributed to the fall in their numbers from 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to around 3,600 today.

Organised crime rings are increasingly engaged in illegal trading of tiger parts, bears, rhinos and elephants. Interpol works in association with CITES to put an end to the trade. The internet has become one of the greatest threats to rare species. Endangered animals, their cubs and products made from their body parts are all sold illegally over the internet. By the year 2009, around $10 billion per year was spent worldwide in the illegal wildlife trade, according to the World Bank’s estimate.

Bans were proposed on legal trading in certain species. Japan is the largest importer of the Atlantic bluefin tuna. The fish is the key ingredient in sushi, a Japanese delicacy. Stocks of this fish have fallen by 75% due to widespread overfishing. Monaco, a European nation, proposed a ban on fishing, but the proposal was shot down. The World Wildlife Fund however said that it would call for restaurants, retailers, chefs and consumers around the world to stop selling, serving, buying and eating the endangered fish.

The USA proposed a ban on the international sale of polar bear skins and parts. At present, polar bears number anywhere between 20,000 and 25,000. Projections say their population could go down to two-thirds of this figure by the year 2050. This is because climate change is destroying their natural habitat. The Arctic sea ice has been melting rapidly in the past few decades. CITES members opposed the ban saying the threat to the habitat was not connected with trade. They also said that polar bear hunting was a regulated activity and that it was a source of livelihood to many people.