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Delays in wildlife trade ban putting hundreds of species at risk: Study

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Hundreds of animal species, including parrots and lizards, may be at the risk of extinction due to existing policies that respond slowly to scientific knowledge, according to a study.

The study, published in the journal Science, suggests concrete steps policymakers can take to speed up a wildlife protection process that can take more than two decades.

"New trends in wildlife trade can develop quickly, with some species going from common to near extinction in just a few years," said Eyal Frank, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago in the US.

"A policymaking process needs to respond quickly to new information in order to prevent extinction for hundreds of animals and plants. That is why it is absolutely critical that policymakers allow science to inform a speedy protection process," Frank said in a statement.

Researchers, including those from Princeton University in the US, analysed 958 species on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List that are endangered by international trade.

Of those, they discovered that 28 per cent are not protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the primary international framework for preventing species extinction due to international wildlife trade.

When studying how quickly species from the Red List became protected under CITES, they found that 62 per cent needed to wait as long as 19 years for protection under CITES or are still waiting to be listed up to 24 years after being first considered.

These patterns are the same for even the most threatened species, researchers said.

At the same time, the study points out that 36 per cent of species studied were protected by CITES before making it on the Red List.

This could be because the CITES authorities had information not available to the IUCN, or it could be due to staffing and other resource constraints at the IUCN.

"CITES and the Red List are two of the most important tools we have to save wildlife threatened by international trade. It is vital that these two institutions work together closely and quickly to stop the killing," said David Wilcove from Princeton University.

Researchers recommend that any nation that is part of CITES advocate that Red List species threatened by international trade be quickly protected under the treaty in order to clear the backlog.

The goal should be that any threatened species on the Red List that is threatened by trade receive a prompt vote for immediate protection under CITES, researchers said.

Independently from CITES, all countries can use the Red List as a source of information and take measures to protect threatened species found within their borders, they said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 15 2019. 12:20 IST