Countries meet to save endangered species

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pretoria - South Africa is part of 178 countries gathering in Bangkok this week to decide how to improve the world’s wildlife trade regime, and ensure the survival of the threatened species.

More than 2 000 delegates are attending the16th Conference of Parties of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora which started in Thailand's capital on Monday.

The Department of Environmental Affairs said amongst the tabled proposals at the conference are those that include up-listing of the rhino due to poaching, from which several countries have suffered, including South Africa.

“This would have widespread implications for South Africa’s white rhino population including the creation of disincentives for the private sector,” the department said.

It said central to South Africa’s conservation model, is an “undisputed record” of having brought species populations to healthy recovery. Among these were the white and black rhino, which had come close to extinction almost a century ago.    

Before the conference Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa met with representatives of the Chinese and Vietnamese delegations to discuss issues of mutual cooperation in the field of biodiversity, particularly the continued illegal trade in rhino horn.

“The Minister’s discussions at COP16 on Sunday with China and Vietnam confirmed the two countries willingness to continue to cooperate with South Africa in the areas of law enforcement in relation to illegal trade in wildlife species”.

The talks with Vietnam established that the implementation plan stemming from the Memorandum of Understanding relating to Biodiversity conservation, signed between the two countries in December 2012, will be signed and rolled out when a high level Vietnamese delegation visits South Africa in April this year.

Discussions with China had centred on the finalisation of a Memorandum of Understanding, to be signed in April this year.  This memorandum on Biodiversity Conservation also deal with illegal rhino hunting and will also be soon followed by an implementation plan, similar to that concluded with Vietnam.

The department said it was also agreed that China and South Africa will ensure the immediate roll-out of technological innovation to continue the fight against wildlife crimes. The matter will also be further discussed within the Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa (BRICS) member countries at bilateral and multilateral levels. –