A surge in elephant and rhino poaching in Africa is the backdrop to the latest meeting of CITES – the UN’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Johannesburg.
Potential sales of elephant ivory and rhino horn are high on the agenda.
There are calls for a global ban to be relaxed so that stockpiles can be sold legally to raise money to pay for wildlife conservation.
Demonstrators outside the conference made clear their opposition to any change.
“We need all of the rhinos protected, we must not have any down listing. This is now, these species, they are looking extinction in the face and it’s our fault,” said one of the protesters, the President of Animal Defenders International, Jan Creamer.
Rhino horn is highly coveted in places like Vietnam, where it has been used for centuries in traditional medicines.
Swaziland wants permission to sell stocks to help conserve wildlife – a key tourism earner.
Rhino poaching is reported to have declined in South Africa’s largest park, although there are questions as to whether it may have been displaced.
More than a third of Africa’s elephants were reportedly wiped out in a seven-year period this century.
Namibia and Zimbabwe want to lift a global ban on ivory sales so they can sell stockpiles to raise conservation funds.
The talks are set to be contentious.
Good luck everyone 👍🐼
Wildlife trade summit a 'do or die' moment for endangered animals https://t.co/QVP7cE2uIG |
dpcarrington</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CITESCoP17?src=hash">#CITESCoP17</a> <a href="https://t.co/hD693mn1wu">pic.twitter.com/hD693mn1wu</a></p>— Lang Banks, WWF (LangBanks) September 24, 2016