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SOS Rhino : In the News : Current Rhino News : Action sought on trade in rare species

Action sought on trade in rare species

  By James Lamont

Published: August 27 2002 21:07 | Last Updated: August 27 2002 21:07

Stronger commitments to curb international environmental crime are likely to emerge at the summit this week - a rare issue on which delegates can find common ground.

In spite of a multitude of inter-governmental agreements, the trade in rare plants and animals is growing fast, environmental groups said on Tuesday.

The smuggling of endangered plants and animals, illegal fishing, logging, mining and toxic waste dumping is estimated at $31bn a year. Trade in endangered species amounts to $10bn a year; while illegal fishing for products such as caviar and abalone totals $5bn a year. The bones of an adult tiger fetch $3,300 on the black market.

Under the biodiversity sector of the UN summit, governments and non- governmental organisations are seeking stronger enforcement of legal frameworks to stop the trade, which sources much of its wares in Africa and South America. Environmentalists and the UN Environment Programme are concerned that in spite of some 500 regional treaties and conventions few governments are enforcing them tightly.

"Environmental crime has been such a lucrative proposition. It's so easy to operate in countries with no environmental laws or protection," said FranÁois Joubert, managing director of EnviroLaw Solutions, an environmental law group. "There is no need for new policies, conventions and treaties. The problem is that only a handful of them are being implemented."

Environmental groups argue that the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species signed by 140 countries, is failing to protect endangered species. They say corruption in rich and poor countries is being exploited by criminal gangs based in Italy, Russia, China and Japan.

"Smuggling is not done by someone walking along a beach and picking up an abalone. It's done by well -organised and well-financed syndicates. They have linkages into governments at a domestic level," said Mr Joubert.



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