International wildlife charities, Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA, have issued a stark warning to governments around the world: there can be no trade in some of our most critically endangered wildlife.
They made the annoucement ahead of the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which takes place from 24 September to 5 October in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The warning comes at a time when decisions taken at CITES will prove critical for key species including lions, tigers, rhinos, elephants, cheetahs, pangolins and various bird, reptile and plant species, which are rapidly facing decline from an epidemic of poaching that has decimated the world’s savannahs and forests. International wildlife trafficking and trade is recognised to be worth billions of dollars and is a driving force behind wildlife poaching and population declines.
Will Travers, president and CEO of Born Free Foundation and president of the Species Survival Network, will be calling for the uplisting of lions to Appendix I, among other measures.
He says:”The dramatic decline in numbers means that in the next decade many countries will have lost their entire population of lions and those that do survive the next 10 years will be lost soon after. These are some of the stark truths that are facing many species as a result of poaching and illegal trade.
“Elephants, rhinos, tigers, pangolins and giraffe are rapidly heading in the same direction.”
In the face of this growing wildlife crisis, an international delegation of scientists and experts from Born Free will join representatives from 182 countries and other wildlife NGOs to discuss 62 crucial proposals that will set the future for embattled species across the world. These proposals include many supported by Born Free, such as transferring threatened species such as the African lion, all eight species of pangolin and all elephant populations currently on Appendix II on to Appendix I – thereby banning international commercial trade and giving each species the greatest protection possible.
Adam Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, says: “This meeting is a clarion call to save the world’s iconic wildlife. Armed militia and sophisticated organised crime networks are operating in the field and slaughtering the world’s wildlife for profit. Traffickers and other profiteers are watching closely to see if trade in elephant ivory or rhino horn, for instance, are reopened.
“Any signal from CITES that there is profitability in this deadly trade will result in animal carcasses unceremoniously littering the African savannah and forests. CITES Parties must act with precaution and prohibit international wildlife trade.”