UN group rules to stop tiger trade

African nations also reach agreement to extend 1989 ban on the sale of ivory.

    Poaching continues to feed a black market
    for tiger products [EPA]

    The statement was supported by every country with a wild tiger population: India, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Russia and Nepal.
    The Cites statement said that those "breeding tigers on a commercial scale" should move towards "conserving" tigers rather than breeding them for parts.
    Conservationists said the decision sent a powerful message to dismantle tiger farms in China, where nearly as many tigers are bred in captivity as remain in the wild - estimated to be about 5,500 tigers.
    Susan Lieberman, from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, said: "This is a strong message that we hope China will take back."
    Tiger products
    Related link

    China's tigers pushed to the brink

    China shut down its domestic trade in tiger parts in 1993, imposing stiff sentences on offenders and ordering pharmacies to remove tiger products from their shelves.
    Tiger medications are believed to cure all sorts of ailments from convulsions to skin disease and to increase sexual potency.
    Poaching continues to feed a black market for tiger products, but China's 1993 measures helped stem a wave of tiger killing across Asia that had left wild tigers facing extinction.
    Fourteen years later, however, as China becomes more receptive to private business, the authorities have come under pressure from businessmen at home to allow farm-bred products back on the market.
    Environmentalists say this would stimulate smuggling.
    Steven Broad, head of Traffic, an international monitoring group said: "A legal market in China for products made from farmed tigers would increase demand and allow criminals to launder products made from tigers poached from the wild."
    But farm owners say legal products would help eliminate the illicit trade, and that revenues could go toward conservation projects.
    Wang Weisheng, a Chinese delegate, said that Beijing had no immediate plans to lift its ban "unless it can be demonstrated to have a positive effect on conservation of wild tigers internationally".
    Elephant debate

    Critics say softening the ban will encourage
    an already booming illegal ivory trade [EPA]

    But while the conference rallied to defend the tiger, there was greater dispute over Africa's elephant populations.
    After weeks of private talks, a vote by a key Cites committee was postponed three times as African groups struggled to reach a consensus.
    Unlike tigers, some African elephant populations have recovered due to careful management by conservation agencies and Southern African countries want to lift a blanket ban, imposed by Cites in 1989, on the international ivory trade.
    Governments keen to sell from their stockpiles have pledged to earmark revenues for conservation, arguing that sales would benefit wildlife and the people who live close to the animal.
    Critics, though, say that softening the ban will encourage an already booming illegal ivory trade, largely run by organised crime syndicates.
    After days of debate, African nations agreed on Thursday to extend a 1989 ivory export ban for nine years to safeguard elephants after one-off sales from stockpiles by southern African states, delegates said.
    The accord, reached overnight, was a compromise between countries led by Kenya and Mali who wanted a total ban, and Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa who favoured limited sales.
    Julius Kipng'etich, head of the Kenya Wildlife Service who led the Kenyan talks, said the deal was a "proud moment for the continent" after days of debate.
    In the past, southern African countries have twice been granted the right to export ivory to Asia under Cites, which regulates trade in 35,000 kinds of plants and animals.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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