Tackling the illegal wildlife trade

China and the UK have both recently hosted meetings calling for a united international crack-down on the illegal wildlife trade. Conservation organisations and law enforcement agencies have expressed growing concern at the rising demand for products derived from threatened and endangered wildlife, used both in traditional Asian medicine, and as luxury items that are associated with status in a number of Asian countries. Poaching not only puts pressure on the survival of vulnerable species, it also threatens the viability of conservation programs designed to save them. Speaking at the UK meeting held in May, the chief executive of WWF-UK David Nussbaum said the multi-billion pound trade also fuelled other types of crime, and had a devastating impact on some of the planet’s poorest people.

“With poaching and wildlife trafficking at record levels, we hope that this meeting will be the start of a ground-breaking initiative in the fight against this deadly and destructive trade,” he said.

Hosted by the UK Government, 2012_Suedchinesischer_Tigerand His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, the conference attracted high level representatives from several European, African, and Asian countries, as well as Australia, and was a forerunner to a Heads of State meeting to be held in London later this year, at which the world’s governments will be urged to commit to actions designed to reduce the global demand for endangered wildlife and related products, strengthen law enforcement and criminal justice practices, and assist rural communities to establish long-term viable alternatives to trafficking wildlife.

High level discussions addressing the need for increased protection of species targeted by wildlife smugglers have also been held in China recently. During May wildlife law enforcement agencies met in Guangxi Province, both to review strategies to combat wildlife crime that were adopted in 2012, and to realign their collaborative efforts to halt the trade.

Supported by TRAFFIC, the the Guangxi meeting brought together members of Guangxi Provincial Inter-agency CITES Enforcement Coordination Group (PICE-CG), as well as representatives from Forest Police, and the Border Police and Industry & Commerce Department. Continue reading Tackling the illegal wildlife trade

Javan rhino confirmed extinct in Vietnam

The Vietnamese subspecies of the Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) was declared extinct in a report critical of Vietnam’s ‘poor protection and law enforcement’ that was jointly produced by the International Rhino Foundation and World Wildlife Fund.

Although widely believed to have perished during the Vietnam War, a rhino was hunted in the Cat Loc region of southern Vietnam in 1988, which led to the discovery of a small population of about 15 animals. The area was subsequently designated protected in 1992 and eventually incorporated into Cat Tien National Park, but despite conservation attempts by several organisations, the results of a 2004 survey identified only two individuals remained.

Further survey work by a research team from WWF and Cat Tien National Park, conducted between October 2009 and April 2010, involved the collection of 22 dung samples from the park’s core rhino area.

They were sent to Canada’s Queen’s University for genetic analysis, together with the skin and teeth samples from the mutilated body of a female Javan rhino, that was found soon after the official survey ended. The results confirmed that all the samples were from one individual. According to the WWF report the dead rhino was the probable victim of poaching: ‘a common problem in most protected areas in Vietnam that threatens the survival of many other species’.

WWF’s species program manager in the Greater Mekong Nick Cox said the report showed actions to save the Javan rhino in Vietnam were inadequate, and this continued situation would undoubtedly lead to the extinction of many more species from the country. Continue reading Javan rhino confirmed extinct in Vietnam