Threatened A-listers of the animal world

Feb 13, 2014
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (R) and Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (L) take a tour of an exhibition about wildlife poaching before an Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at Lancaster House in London on February 13, 2014

The 40 countries meeting here Thursday to seek a landmark declaration on the illegal trade of wildlife have said they are particularly concerned about the plight of elephants, rhinos and tigers, prized for their tusks, horns and skins.

Illegal trafficking is a particular threat to big game in Asia and Africa, as well as to sharks and Chinese Pangolins, the source of some .

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) forbids the sale of more than 600 animal species, including great apes, , crocodiles and snakes.

It was first adopted in 1973, has been signed by 178 countries and sets strict limits on the sale of around 4,500 animal species.

But poachers thrive nonetheless. In Africa, the number of rhinoceroses killed shot up by 43 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, despite a ban in effect since 1977.

South Africa, home to about 80 percent of all the world's rhinos, reported that more than 1,000 were killed last year.

Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has estimated that the number of wild tigers has plunged from 100,000 in 1900 to around 3,200 at present.

And across Africa, the elephant population is now estimated at less than 500,000 whereas several million lived there in the mid-1900s.

Poaching accounts for much of that loss.

Despite a 1989 ban on ivory sales, trafficking has doubled since 2007 and more than tripled since 1998 according to a report released last March on the sidelines of a CITES conference.

The spread of cities to the detriment of natural habitat has also hammered jungle heavyweights.

The Swiss-based IUCN's latest Red List of Threatened Species included 11,212 from a total of 53,267 kinds of vertebrates and invertebrates.

A breakdown of the IUCN data showed that one in four mammal species, one of every eight birds and more than one in three amphibians are threatened with extinction.

The CITES decided last year to tighten regulations on trade in five kinds of sharks, while the non-governmental organisation Traffic estimates the total value of trade in shark fins at more than $480 million per year.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), 100 million sharks are killed annually, and 90 percent have disappeared within the past 100 years.

Explore further: Africa risks losing 20 percent of elephants in 10 years, study says

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heat on Thailand as wildlife conference starts

Mar 02, 2013

Global conservationists will converge in Bangkok for the start of key endangered species talks on Sunday, as host Thailand faces pressure to curb rampant ivory smuggling through its territory.

US bans commercial ivory trade

Feb 11, 2014

The United States banned the commercial trade of elephant ivory on Tuesday as part of a new drive to help African countries stem the rising threat to wildlife from poachers.

US bars sale, trade of white rhino horns

Sep 10, 2013

The last remaining species of rhinoceros that is not endangered will receive new US protection due to an intensifying poaching crisis, federal wildlife officials said Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

12 hours ago

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

22 hours ago

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...