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In response to a declaration in 2004 from a coalition of conservation and animal welfare organizations to ban imports of wild birds into the European Union, we propose that such blanket or indiscriminate bans are unlikely to be effective as a generic conservation approach to the wild bird trade. We further argue that such trade bans, particularly when imposed by Northern constituencies on Southern countries and communities, can act counter to broader values of equity and sustainable development. Here we draw attention to a range of problems and unforeseen consequences of trade bans and highlight the conservation potential of market-led mechanisms that seek to reform trade chains to make them more ethical and sustainable. We contend that it is time for conservation scientists to critically examine the evidence concerning the efficacy of these two strategies as they relate to the trade in wild birds.
Concerns regarding the sustainability of the seahorse Hippocampus spp. trade led to their listing on CITES Appendix II in 2002, with implementation in 2004. In 2007 we interviewed wholesale traders of seahorses in Hong Kong, China, seeking indications of the effects of the CITES listing on the seahorse trade. We cross-validated traders’ perspectives with government trade statistics (1998–2007) from Hong Kong and Taiwan. We also compared these data with trade statistics for pipefish, which are related species with similar medicinal uses but are not CITES-listed. Both the interviews and government statistics indicated reduced volumes of seahorses traded through Hong Kong, changes in source countries, and price increases post-implementation. Traders suggested that these changes were largely a result of the CITES listing. However, data indicate that other factors such as shifts in domestic policies and local demand may also have affected the trade. By cross-validating the perspectives of local stakeholders with trade statistics in a wildlife trading hub we were able to explore hypotheses on the local and global impacts of CITES. Such approaches are especially important for CITES-listed species because often there is no single data source that is complete and wholly reliable.
In the spring of 1967 Philip Wayre and his wife took 15 pairs of the rare Swinhoe's pheasant, bred at the Ornamental Pheasant Trust, in Norfolk, of which he is Hon. Director, to Taiwan (Formosa), where this pheasant is endemic, to supplement the sadly reduced wild stock and also provide a captive breeding nucleus for further releases. This article describes the return of the pheasants, and also the wildlife situation in Taiwan, particularly the dangerous demands of the tourist trade for stuffed animals and birds, and for goods decorated with the gorgeous butterflies of Taiwan. These butterflies are being collected in millions to decorate plastic trays and tablecloths.
Every year millions of bulbs, corms and tubers are being dug up in the wild to supply the market for garden plants. In many cases the level of exploitation is so high that it threatens some species with extinction in their natural habitats. Some have already been lost. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which has been so successful in controlling damaging trade in certain species of animals, has yet to address the bulb trade effectively. One of the difficulties to be overcome is assessing its true extent and its effect on wild populations. In 1987 the FFPS contracted its staff botanist, Mike Read, to investigate the trade in wild-collected plants in Turkey. The findings reported here point clearly to the need for further research, more legislation and the promotion of sustainable methods of propagation in the countries of origin.
Seahorses and their syngnathid relatives have provided a focus for efforts to ensure sustainable use of marine resources, with new international trade controls (CITES Appendix II) implemented in May 2004. We demonstrate how a study of international trade can be used to assess relative levels of threat and set domestic research and conservation priorities. Australia has remarkably high syngnathid biodiversity with at least 14 seahorse species, two endemic sea dragon species, and 90 species of pipefishes and pipehorses found in its territorial waters. Our objectives were to quantify species, trade routes, volumes, values and temporal trends in syngnathid trade to and from Australia. We found that Australia is probably the major global supplier of dried pipehorses Solegnathus spp.. These fishes, including at least one endemic species, are sourced from trawl bycatch and comprise Australia's largest syngnathid export, by both volume and value. Research is urgently needed to evaluate the impacts and sustainability of trawling on pipehorse populations. Australia is also the sole supplier of two sea dragon species, Phycodurus eques and Phyllopteryx taeniolatus, for the live aquarium trade. Although lucrative, the number of wild-caught individuals involved in this trade was relatively low and probably of low conservation risk relative to habitat loss. Exports of seahorses and other pipefish species, and imports of all syngnathid species, are minor on a global scale, although the burgeoning aquaculture industry for seahorses requires careful evaluation for its potential impacts on wild populations.
More than 300,000 tortoises are exported every year from Morocco to Britain for pets. To find out the effect of this trade on the populations in the wild, the author, aided by a grant from the FPS/WWF Revolving Fund, searched the known tortoise areas in Morocco, weighing and measuring all he found. In his six weeks in the field he found only 23 tortoises. For the country as a whole he estimates numbers to be of the order of five million, a very thin spread over a large area of ground. But the trade may have a more serious effect than just reducing numbers. Because only tortoises of 4–6 inches (under-shell measurement) are wanted, the collectors concentrate on these, which often leaves small mature males to mate with very large mature females. If they are unable to do so it could seriously affect reproduction rates.
n I 1981 the authors reviewed all the information then available to them on the world ivory trade to determine the number of elephants represented by Africa’s raw ivory exports. Their findings were published in Oryx in February 1982. Since then they have been able to collect and analyse more data, which has permitted a more accurate assessment of the situation up to the end of 1982. Contrary to their earlier conclusions, they expect the output in ivory to remain high throughout the coming decade.
Given the important contribution of urban consumption in bushmeat trade, information on bushmeat sales in urban markets can provide valuable insights for understanding the dynamics of this trade and its implications for conservation and food security. We monitored bushmeat traded in the market of Kisangani (the provincial capital of the Province Orientale in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and compared data collected in surveys in 2002 and 2008–2009. In both periods more than two-thirds of the carcasses sold were of rodents and ungulates. From 2002 to 2008–2009 the number of carcasses increased by 44% but the equivalent biomass by only 16% because of a significant decrease in medium-sized species (10–50 kg) and an increase in small species (<10 kg). The number of carcasses of large species increased between the two periods and those of diurnal monkeys increased fourfold. In both periods smoked bushmeat was one of the cheapest sources of protein available year-round, together with caterpillars, which were only available during the rainy season, and pork. Prices of other domestic meat were significantly higher. This study identified an increase in the market of highly threatened species such as okapi Okapia johnstoni and small diurnal monkeys and the continued presence of protected species, and also highlights the food security role that bushmeat plays for poor urban people who cannot afford alternative sources of protein.
In several eastern Mediterranean countries orchids are collected from the wild for the production of salep, a beverage made of dried orchid tubers. The drivers of this collection and trade have changed over time. We investigated which genera and species are harvested for salep production, whether any cultivation takes place, the chain of commercialization, and the economic value of tuber collection. Fieldwork and interviews in north-western Greece included 25 collectors and street vendors, the owners of two companies, and one herbal shop. The results show that several orchid species are traded for the production of salep, and none are cultivated. Tubers collected in Greece, Albania and Turkey are sold in northern Greece for EUR 55–150 per kg on average. Recent catalysts such as the increasing demand for traditional, organic and alternative foodstuffs, and the 2009 economic downturn, have led to a revival of salep consumption, with an increasing number of salep harvesters from Greece and Albania scouring the mountains for harvestable tubers, using unsustainable harvesting practices.
Illegal hunting is a widespread problem, with motivations varying across regions. We investigated the patterns and reasons for hunting in Afghanistan, where it is generally illegal but pervasive in the wake of decades of civil war. To assess motivations for hunting, firstly we conducted a systematic review of the literature, extracting information from 32 studies that discuss the relative importance of various reasons for hunting in Afghanistan; we analysed findings from these studies using the meta-analytic method of vote-counting. Secondly, using face-to-face interviews or a web-based questionnaire, we surveyed key informants in Afghanistan about the motivations identified in the literature. We obtained responses from 57 people familiar with hunting, including government officials, vendors in wildlife markets, and hunters. Findings from the meta-analysis and the survey were broadly consistent, both identifying the market for fur and other by-products as one of the most important motivations for hunting. However, much of the published literature focuses on hunting of carnivores, and emphasizes retaliation as a motivation for hunting. Key informants were more likely to cite subsistence consumption and to suggest that providing education and livelihood alternatives would reduce hunting. Our results highlight the importance of a multi-pronged policy response that recognizes variation in motivations for hunting different species.
This study is the first to provide data on the extent of illegal hunting practices in Jordan using posts on social media. During January 2015–January 2016 photographs from seven hunter groups on Facebook recorded the killing of 4,707 native animals of 59 species, of which birds constituted the majority, followed by mammals and reptiles. Flouting of Jordanian laws was widespread, with daily bag limits exceeded on many occasions, and in the case of chukar partridge Alectoris chukar, the most popular quarry, some hunters exceeded the limit by 3,000%. Of even greater concern, a total of 34 species with special protection under Jordanian law were killed, and the hunting of large mammals, especially ibex Capra nubiana and gazelles (Gazella spp.), with already depleted populations, was particularly excessive. It also appeared that a significant number of gazelles were shot by unlicensed hunters from Arabian Gulf countries. Overall, the survey indicates an alarming picture of overhunting of threatened species and ineffective enforcement of hunting laws, despite the efforts of key government and voluntary agencies. We recommend urgent action to address the causes of the problem and to improve the management of hunting through better collaboration, mobilization of resources and awareness raising.
The Critically Endangered saiga antelope Saiga tatarica faces an uncertain future, with populations dwindling from epidemics in its range countries, and ongoing demand for its horns in the traditional Chinese medicine trade. Singapore is a major hub for the global trade in saiga horn and an important consumer country, with saiga horn products widely available in the domestic market. Despite this, little is known about the consumers that drive domestic demand. Before interventions are carried out, it is important to understand who the consumers are, and their motivations. We conducted an investigation into consumption prevalence and consumer demographics, knowledge and motivations. We surveyed 230 Chinese Singaporeans, through a combination of face-to-face interviews and self-administered questionnaires. Recent consumption incidence (in the previous 12 months) was relatively high, at 13%. Younger respondents (18–35 years) had the highest prevalence of recent consumption (25%), often as a result of influence from an older family member or friend. Bottled saiga horn cooling water was the most popular product among recent users (50%), followed by horn shavings (31%) and tablets (13%). Awareness of conservation issues and regulations was uniformly low. Awareness raising may have an effect in reducing consumer demand in Singapore. However, given the exploratory nature of this study, it is best used to guide and inform future research underlying behavioural change interventions in a relatively understudied but important consumer group, Chinese Singaporeans.
The Critically Endangered ploughshare tortoise Astrochelys yniphora, endemic to Madagascar, is one of the rarest tortoises. Despite its protection under Malagasy national law and featuring in Appendix I of CITES, heightened interest from reptile collectors over recent decades has expedited the scale of poaching to critical levels. Illegal traders are now turning to online retail platforms and social media to sell this species. We present data from a 5-month study conducted by TRAFFIC in 2015 of online trade in ploughshare tortoises in Indonesia during 2010–2015. We identified 88 advertisements selling 126 ploughshare tortoises from 49 sellers. Fifty-six percent of the advertisements were located on forums or online retail sites and 43% on social media. Since 2012 advertisements on social media increased steadily, to > 90% in 2015. Seventy-five percent of the advertisements were from sellers based in Indonesia, 74% of which were from Jakarta. Prices were USD 509–47,000. The internet provides Indonesian traders with a means to sell protected wildlife comparatively safely and easily. The abundance of illegally sourced ploughshare tortoises openly on offer in online trade in Indonesia highlights a disregard for the law among Indonesian importers and their exporting counterparts. A re-evaluation by CITES of Indonesia's existing legislation is necessary. Devoid of a sound legal framework and sufficient enforcement to uphold these laws, there is no deterrent for traders of ploughshare tortoises and other non-native, CITES-listed species.