Friday, 8 March 2013
Plans to protect elephants, rhinos, sharks and other endangered animals are being discussed at a ten-day meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
Officials from over 170 countries are attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to discuss the rules regarding the trade of different species.
This is the 40th year the event has been held, but this year’s conference is said to be the most important yet, as so many of the world’s animals are facing extinction.
Elephants will be one of the main topics being discussed, as the demand for ivory has meant elephant poaching has reached record levels.
In Thailand, it is legal to sell the ivory that has come from the country’s own elephants. However, it is thought that ivory from African elephants is being sold illegally there too. “Thailand should grab the spotlight and shut down these markets that are fuelling the poaching of elephants in Africa,” said Carlos Drews from environmental group WWF.
The convention will also consider a proposal to ban the trade of polar bear parts. However, this is opposed by Canada, where polar bear skins are legally sold after the animals are shot for food and other products by the native Inuit population.
It has also been proposed that several species of shark should get more protection, as new reports have shown that over 100 million sharks a year are being killed and sold for parts. There is particular demand for shark in Chinese communities, where shark fin soup is popular.
Rhinos will also be discussed, as there are disagreements over how best to tackle the issue of poaching. A recent report showed that one African rhino is killed for its horn every 11 hours.
The trade in Asian tortoises and turtles will also be tackled, as well as the way different plant species are bought and sold.
The conference runs until 14 March.
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