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Latest news from TRAFFIC


Kamchatka smugglers caught with Gyr Falcons

Gyr Falcons are in high demand for use in falconry © Nikolay Gerasimov   Vladivostock, Russia, 12 November 2008—traffic police from Milkovo District, Kamchatka, last night stopped a truck carrying 38 illegally captured Gyr Falcons.

Gyr Falcons are in high demand for use in falconry, particularly in the Middle East, where birds are offered for large sums of money.

Under Russian law, the possession of a Gyr Falcon from Kamchatka carries a fine of RUB250,000, meaning if convicted, those arrested could face a total fine of RUB9.5 million (USD380,000) plus criminal proceedings.

“This is the biggest such case recorded in recent years,” said Alexey Vaisman, Senior Programme Officer with TRAFFIC Europe-Russia, adding that he expected a criminal investigation to reveal where the birds were being taken.

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Illegal Toothfish still on the plate

WWF and TRAFFIC call for tougher measures against illegal fishing

The Antarctic Toothfish is so valuable it is sometimes referred to as "White Gold"; better measures are needed to stop those catching toothfish illegally Click photo to enlarge © Stuart Hanchet, NIWA, New Zealand  Hobart, Australia, 5 November 2008--WWF and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, are calling for enhanced monitoring measures and for trade sanctions to be imposed against countries continuing to undermine the conservation measures for toothfish.

The future of the Patagonian and Antarctic Toothfish and the highly valuable fishery based on them concentrated in the Southern Ocean, is under significant pressure from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

According to a study released today by TRAFFIC, IUU fishing is severely undermining protection of these valuable species which are overseen by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

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Illegal shark fishing compounds global management shortfall

Only 6 of the top 20 shark catching countries / territories have implemented plans to manage shark populations Click photo to enlarge © Simon Buxton / WWF-Canon   Cambridge, UK / Canberra, Australia, 3 November 2008-As the world's demand for sharks continues to grow, shark populations are plummeting. The Asian market for shark fin is the key driver of shark fishing globally and is fuelling illegal fishing and high levels of legitimate shark fishing of questionable sustainability, according to a new report jointly published by the Australian Government and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

Sharks are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they grow slowly, are late to mature and produce relatively few young. Currently more than a fifth of shark species are listed as threatened with extinction.

Glenn Sant, TRAFFIC's Global Marine Programme Leader and an author of the report, described the impact of illegal fishing as an unacceptable additional threat to the survival of populations of sharks.

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First ivory auction from southern Africa takes place

Namibia is the first of four African countries to auction its stockpiled ivory in the CITES-regulated "one-off" ivory sale Click photo to enlarge ©Folke Wulf / WWF Canon Gland, Switzerland/Cambridge, UK, 28 October 2008-Four African countries are holding "one-off" ivory auctions over the next two weeks. South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe have been approved by the member governments of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, to sell ivory from government-managed stockpiles to Japan and China under very strict conditions.

The CITES member governments approved this sale in 2002 with details finalised in 2007, and have agreed that Japan and China meet all of the requirements for tight enforcement controls on the ivory auctions. The first auction took place today in Namibia when three buyers from Japan and three from China bought 7.2 tonnes of ivory for a total of USD1.18 million. The remaining 1.8 tonnes of the 9 tonnes on offer will be used by local craftsmen.

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Tiger and other cat parts on open sale in Myanmar

TRAFFIC surveys found parts of Tigers and other wild cat species openly on sale in Myanmar, with some dealers claiming their Tiger parts originated in India Click photo to enlarge © Chris Shepherd / TRAFFIC Southeast Asia   Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 15 October 2008—Skin and bones, canines and claws from almost 1,200 wild cats were observed in Myanmar’s wildlife markets during 12 surveys undertaken by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network. They included parts of at least 107 Tigers and all eight cat species native to Myanmar.

Irregular surveys over the last 15 years have recorded a total of 1,320 wild cat parts, representing a minimum of 1,158 individual animals.

“Although almost 1,200 cats were recorded, this can only be the tip of the iceberg,” said Chris Shepherd, Programme Co-ordinator for TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia office.

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New foundation to promote sustainable collection of wild plants

Left to right: Julia Marton-Lefèvre (Director General, IUCN), Professor Beate Jessel, BfN President, Guillermo Castilleja, Executive Director of Conservation, WWF and Steven Broad, Executive Director, TRAFFIC, announcing a new ISSC-MAP agreement Click photo to enlarge © TRAFFIC  Barcelona, Spain, 9 October 2008—An important agreement was signed today between the four founding institutions of the International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP) to endorse global implementation of the standard through the FairWild Foundation.

ISSC-MAP is a standard that promotes appropriate management of wild plant populations used in medicines and cosmetics to ensure they are not over-exploited. Under the new agreement, the FairWild Foundation will help develop an industry labelling system so products harvested using the sustainable ISSC-MAP criteria can be readily recognised and certified. Use of the standard will be promoted throughout the herbal products industry.

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Over-harvesting a key threat according to new IUCN Red List

In the Red List update, African Elephants have been downlisted from Vulnerable to Near Threatened Click photo to enlarge (C) Martin Harvey / WWF-Canon   Barcelona, Spain, 6 October 2008--The new IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was unveiled today at the World Conservation Congress currently underway in Barcelona. A record 44,838 species have been assessed, of which 16,928 (38%) are threatened with extinction.

The new assessment finds 1,141 mammal species, more than 1 in 5 of all mammals, is threatened with extinction. Over harvesting is a key threat, wiping out larger mammals, especially in Southeast Asia, but also in parts of Africa and South America. Species like the Caspian Seal Pusa caspica move from Vulnerable to Endangered. Its population has declined by 90 percent in the last 100 years due to unsustainable hunting and habitat degradation and is still decreasing.

However, conservation can bring species back from the brink of extinction, with five percent of currently threatened mammals showing signs of recovery in the wild. They include the African Elephant Loxodonta africana, which moves from Vulnerable to Near Threatened, largely a reflection of the recent and ongoing population increases in southern and eastern Africa. The status of the species varies considerably across its range.

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New study on what’s driving the wildlife trade in south-east Asia

Wild meat on sale in Vietnam; a new study investigates what drives trade in wildlife Click photo to enlarge  TRAFFIC  

Cambridge, UK, 3 October 2008—A report released today by the World Bank and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, examines what factors influence wildlife trade in south-east Asia, and in particular trade that is illegal and unsustainable.

Launching the report, What’s Driving the Wildlife Trade?, Tony Whitten, the World Bank’s Senior Biodiversity Specialist for the East Asia and Pacific Region, commented on the rationale in carrying out the study: “Understanding the factors that influence wildlife trade is absolutely fundamental if steps are to be taken to curb illegal trade or influence unsustainable trade so that it becomes sustainable.” 

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How to help your hotel help nature

TRAFFIC provided techical input into a new guide aimed at promoting sustainable use of biological resources in hotels  Click image to enlargeCambridge, UK, 2 October 2008—From cotton towels and sheets in guest rooms, to food in the restaurant and wood used for furniture and fittings—the products of biodiversity are everywhere inside hotels. Outside, plants and animals make a hotel’s public spaces and gardens attractive for guests, while beyond the hotel gates, parks, green spaces, coasts and natural habitats provide guests with opportunities for recreation and enjoyment. 

Recognizing these important links, Accor, one of the world's leading hotel companies, has joined forces with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), to develop guidelines on the sustainable use of biological resources in hotels’ everyday operations. The guide includes technical factsheets developed by TRAFFIC, listing conservation issues and advice on which wildlife species to choose and which to avoid.

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