Endangered animals now being traded for wealth and luxury

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The global illegal trade in ivory, rhino horns and other endangered animal parts continues to accelerate but the trade is increasingly being driven by desire for wealth and luxury as opposed to their use in traditional medicine, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The organisation says the shift in demand from health to wealth is disturbing, noting that in some of the markets buyers were willing to pay as much as $10,000 to acquire tiger or cheetah cubs as pets.

There has also been a shift in the illegal trade in ivory, with individuals now stockpiling the product for speculative purposes in the hope that its value will increase with time.

The changing consumption patterns as well as concerns over the large scale killing of elephants and rhinos will be among the key highlights of the CITES 65th Standing Committee meeting to be held in Geneva from 7 to 11 July.

John Scanlon is the Secretary General of CITES.

"We are at a critical stage here. We are down to around 500,000 elephants, Rhinos are down to just over 20,000, the Sumatran Rhino we have less than 50 in the wild. There are around 3,000 tigers left in the wild, 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild. We are right down to the wire here in terms of survival of some species in the wild. We have to get harder and faster with our actions in the field because it is in the field that we will win or lose this fight not in a conference room."

CITES is the world's regulator of protected wildlife trade and has set the legal framework for combating illegal trade and ensuring that authorized trade is legal, sustainable and traceable.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 1:45″

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