New Delhi: A conference on illegal wildlife trade being held in London is an opportunity for governments to tackle the issue that threatens existence of species like elephants, rhinos and tigers, a global wildlife agency said today.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, said the current poaching epidemic impacts the world's most iconic species.
"The number of rhinos poached in South Africa alone increased to over 1,000 last year from only 13 six years ago. There are as few as 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild, and over 20,000 African elephants were illegally killed in 2012. Poaching in these species remains unacceptably high despite much international discussion," it said in a release here.
The conference, being hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague, will work on some solid steps to reverse the declines in these and other species adversely affected by illegal wildlife trade, it said.
World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC have been providing expert inputs to the preparatory process for the conference.
"Although the London conference is mainly highlighting the plight of rhinos, tigers and elephants, there are many other species that are threatened by the destructive and pervasive illegal wildlife trade," Shekhar Niraj, head of TRAFFIC in India, said.
He said action to stem trafficking of iconic species should benefit some of the lesser known wildlife, such as pangolins.
Priority issues to be addressed in London include strengthening law enforcement and criminal justice, reducing demand for illegal wildlife products and supporting sustainable livelihoods for communities that live alongside wildlife, Niraj said.