OPINION: Saving Wildlife From the Specter of Trade

Rural communities living alongside game parks in South Africa still largely survive at a subsistence level often below the poverty line. (Photo by Colin Bell)
Rural communities alongside game parks in South Africa still largely survive below the poverty line. (Photo by Colin Bell)

By Adam Cruise

Elephants, rhinos, and other wildlife across the globe are being slaughtered for their tusks, horns, pelts, and bones with no end in sight.

Last week, the battle lines for an offensive were drawn. At a conference in Cape Town, South Africa, experts from around the world gathered to tackle the problem. Unfortunately, they have to fight on two fronts.

While it is widely acknowledged that crime and the illegal trade are the primary drivers of prodigious declines in wildlife over the past decade, they’re ably abetted by an influential, if not unintentional, ally: Those who favor a legal trade in wildlife.

The umbrella cause is otherwise known as Sustainable Utilization and Development. The promoters, which include such august bodies as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, are unashamedly anthropocentric.

Wildlife is regarded exclusively as providing “vital goods and services for mankind,” according to a recently released paper by the International Trade Centre, “The Trade in Wildlife: A Framework to Improve Biodiversity and Livelihood Outcomes.”

Their concern is that wildlife, as a means of satisfying human needs and desires, cannot sustain rising demand for their products, such as ivory or rhino horn, unless it is properly “managed” or “regulated” (read “consumed” and “exploited”).

But the perfidiousness of the powerful pro-trade lobby is that its agenda is promoted under the guise of conservation, preservation of biological diversity, and poverty alleviation, when in fact it’s in the name of vested interests and profit through materialist self-aggrandisement.

The catastrophic results of this approach speak for themselves.

In 2008 the world, through the supervision of CITES, voted for a sale of an enormous stockpile of ivory that had been collected by the southern African bloc of countries.

It was —> Read More