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Sunday, April 20, 2003

Last week Earth-Info.Net was told by an expert about some of the threats faced by wild falcons (which are very highly-prized by falconers)...

Even in the most remote corners of the world falcons are being trapped in order to supply this illicit trade and numerous prey species are also being hunted close to extinction.

Conservation projects associated with falcons are currently underway for Red Kites in Cape Verde and Saker falcon populations in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Hungary, the former Czechoslovakia + Rumania with captive breeding programmes increasingly being set up in the Middle East.

An organisation set up by the UN and the WWF, called Traffic, suggests that the scale of the global wildlife trade is huge, with an annual turnover estimated at $1,000,000,000s and involving 100,000,000s of individual plants and animals.... including rare falcons!

The Traffic site also points out that "a large proportion of the world's wildlife trade is domestic and does not cross international boundaries, especially for products such as medicinal plants, timber, charcoal, wild meat + fisheries."

In terms of what is being traded internationally, "based on declared import values, it is estimated that, in the early 1990s, timber alone accounted for 65% of the annual value of global international trade in wildlife, followed by fisheries food products (25%) and non-timber forest products (7%). Other wildlife commodities - such as live animals, animal products for clothing and ornaments, medicinal products, wild meat + live ornamental plants, accounted for the remaining 3%."

We obviously don't know what goes on without being declared, taxed or challenged and it is fortunate (if inadequate) that since 1975 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna + Flora (CITES) has offered some protection.

The Forest Stewardship Council has also established a well-respected certification scheme which helps to encourage both sustainable forestry and responsible consumer choice.

It simply remains to be seen whether these commendable measures will be enough to counteract poverty, weak law enforcement + lucrative demand before we start noticing the extinctions...