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IFAW calls for joint efforts to tackle illicit wildlife trade

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- An international wildlife body on Wednesday called for international cooperation to tackle illicit wildlife trade as countries will gather in South Africa later this week for a global conference on conservation.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said the survival of many species will be affected by decisions taken by the delegates at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), including rhinos, lions, elephants, pangolins, Barbary macaques and African grey parrots.

“Illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade has become such a huge threat to many species that international cooperation between governments, NGOs and other stakeholders is absolutely vital in tackling it,” IFAW CEO Azzedine Downes said in a statement received in Nairobi.

CITES will hold its 17th Conference of the Parties from Sept. 24 to Oct. 5 in South Africa where ivory trade, and the proposal by Gabon and others to transfer the African grey parrot to Appendix I will be highly controversial topics.

During the conference, Zimbabwe and Namibia are keen to lessen protection status of their elephant populations in order to be able to sell stockpiled ivory.

But the African Elephant Coalition, comprising 29 African countries, has put forward a package of five proposals for stronger elephant protection—one of them asks to list all elephant populations on Appendix I, thus prohibiting any international commercial trade.

“Despite public outcry and numerous positive international efforts to draw attention to the elephant crisis, poaching and associated illicit ivory trade continues to escalate,” said Jason Bell, IFAW’s Elephant Program Director.

According to IFAW, another focus for this conference is the pangolin—the most illegally traded mammal in the world, with more than a million taken from the wild in the past decade.

Mark Hofberg, IFAW’s pangolin expert said the world could very soon see this amazing species disappear, if the unsustainable trade continues.

“All eight pangolin species have to be transferred to Appendix I to ensure maximum protection from further commercial trade in their parts,” Hofberg added.

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