Thursday, April 11, 2013

Victoria's Green Matters - 11th April 2013

Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury

It seems that whatever protection is put in place, the world’s wildlife is still under threat from the criminal activities that support the global black market in animals and plants. These are sold for food, traditional medicines or exotic pets. The people that fight against these crimes are losing out in the battle to halt exports of endangered species and need much greater support from the international community.

It is difficult for us to understand how these crimes can happen. Some countries – for example Vietnam – are at the forefront of the trade with their import of exotic animals to fulfil the demand for traditional medicines which do not have any proven benefit in scientific fact. These crimes are happening on a massive scale but profits are high and worth the risk to the traders. Rhino horn can have greater value than heroin but the penalties when traders are caught are often only fines. Heroin smugglers can face the death penalty.

China is the main market for elephant ivory ornaments and Thailand is the centre of the illegal import of exotic animals such as the live leopard cubs, pythons, bear cubs and parrots found in luggage at Bangkok airport.

The secretary general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has stated that ‘the illegal trade in wildlife has now reached a scale that poses an immediate risk to wildlife and to people’.

This horrible trade is worth billions but it must be stopped if the world’s wildlife is to survive.

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