Proposal to resume rhino trade rejected, more species to be protected
More than 100 countries rejected a proposal seeking the resumption in the trade of rhino horns at the 18th conference of parties (COP18) of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) underway in Geneva, Switzerland.
Namibia and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) sought to loosen the rhino horn trade ban, which has been in force for the last 42 years. With barely, 66 white rhinos surviving in the wild, Eswatini bid to resume commercial trade and sell its rhino horn stockpile surprised many.
The animal's population has increased to 1,000 in Namibia, mostly residing in the wild and private reserves. But experts believe that a large of the animals were imported from South Africa. Namibia demanded to downgrade the protection level of the animal, to pave the way for trade of live rhino and export of trophy hunts.
Both countries tried to assure the governments at the COP18 that the revenue earned from rhinoceros sales would be invested for conservation, anti-poaching efforts of the animal. A large number of countries voted against the proposal.
"Namibia is still experiencing troubling levels of rhino poaching and has faced challenges securing convictions for criminals accused of poaching and illegal trade in rhino horn," Environmental Investigative Agency (EIA), an international non-profit, working for the protection of wild animals said.
More species included in the protection list
The governments agreed to cover over a dozen threatened species of sharks and rays into the protection list.
Trade of mako sharks, wedgefish and guitarfish—hunted mostly for their fins and meat—has been regulated to protect their depleting numbers.
Classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, shortfin mako meat is used fresh, dried, salted, frozen and smoked for human consumption all over the world. The meat is sold for 22-44 U.S. dollars per kilogram.
"We welcome the listing of mako sharks in CITES, creating a common platform for all those engaged in marine species management and trade to work together for the conservation of these vulnerable species," said Steven Broad, executive director of Traffic, UK based non-profit said.
(Cover Image: Southern white rhinos at West Midlands Safari Park, UK. /VCG Photo)