CITES conference strengthens int'l trade regime for wildlife

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GENEVA, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- A range of animals, from giraffes to mako sharks, have been newly added to the lists of species threatened with extinction, and thus the rules on international trade in them are tightened and are attributed special conservation protections, the World Wildlife Conference decided on Wednesday.

The triennial conference, also known formally as CoP18 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), concluded in Geneva on Wednesday after adopting an impressive list of decisions advancing the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife across the globe.

It decided to add 18 more shark species to Appendix II which, together with Appendix I, makes up the CITES lists of species threatened with extinction or attributed special conservation protections.

They include the blacknose and sharpnose guitarfish, which are highly valued for their fins and have endangered status on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Shortfin and longfin mako sharks, together with white-spotted and other species of wedgefishes, are also listed in Appendix II.

Other marine species tackled at the conference included eels, teatfish (sea cucumber), queen conch, marine turtles, precious corals, sturgeons and seahorses. Governments, furthermore, agreed to examine the trade in live ornamental marine fish to assess what role CITES could or should play in regulating it.

The conference voted overwhelmingly to regulate the global trade in giraffes, despite objections from southern African states. According to the IUCN, the African giraffe population has declined by 36 percent to 40 percent in the past 30 years due to habitat loss and other pressures and now numbers less than 100,000.

It also rejected proposals to relax restrictions on the hunting and export of white rhinos, and agreed to limit the sale of wild elephants caught in Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Among other decisions, CITES broadened the need for trade permits to include plywood, and added the rare Mulanje cedar, Malawi's national tree, and the slow-growing mukula tree of southern and eastern Africa, as well as all Latin American species of cedar to Appendix II.

"Humanity needs to respond to the growing extinction crisis by transforming the way we manage the world's wild animals and plants. Business as usual is no longer an option," said CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero.

"CITES conserves our natural world by ensuring that international trade in wild plants and animals is legal, sustainable and traceable. Well-managed trade also contributes to human well-being, livelihoods and the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals," she said.

CITES, which brings together 183 Parties, bans trade in some products entirely, while permitting international trade in other species provided it does not hurt their numbers in the wild. More than 36,000 species are currently protected by the convention signed in 1973 in Washington, D.C. Enditem

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