July 14, 2008

Wildlife Trade Convention Opens

Wildlife trade and resulting species decline are the topics at an international convention in Switzerland on endangered species of wildlife and native plants.

Innovative and courageous solutions are required to correct the spiral of species decline, Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora said Monday in a statement at the start of the conference.

Representatives from the 173 CITES member nations will discuss the quantities of raw ivory stockpiled in four southern African countries that have been approved for export, Wijnstekers said. Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe were authorized last year to make a one-time sale of all government-owned stocks of ivory registered by the end of 2007.

The convention will also focus on tiger farming in Asia. CITES officials decided captive tiger populations should be restricted to numbers that can support wild tiger conservation and tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts, Wijnstekers said. Also on the table will be the level of mahogany exports from the Amazon basis and improvements to the timber verification system, and setting up a multi-national task force to address the illegal trade in rhinoceros horn.