Saving endangered species from extinction is the sort of goal that should unite the world. After all, too many animals have vanished already, and modern research methods give us good detailed data on both stocks and threats.
But yesterday in Bangkok, as delegates from 177 countries opened a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, known as Cites, the news was not as good as it should be.
Started in 1975, Cites covers trade in 35,000 endangered animals and plant species. The agreement has certainly reduced poaching and illegal trade. Yet the World Wide Fund for Nature values the current global illegal trade at $26 billion (Dh95.4 billion) a year. That compares to legal trade in Cites-protected species of $300 billion.
China is by far the biggest buyer of illicit products, notably ivory. Chinese unwillingness to join wholeheartedly in this global effort is increasingly frustrating and lessens the impact of such efforts.
Limited trade in ivory, legitimate for the last five years, has proved to be a mistake. Elephant poaching has boomed because illicit ivory is easily slipped into Cites-licensed shipments. This experiment should end.
Also Cites should do away with secret voting, which allows some governments to pander to exploiters in secret.
The UAE's record on Cites-related matters is a more than respectable one. More....