New Delhi, April 18 : Poaching, illegal logging and fishing in nearly 30 per cent of World Heritage sites are driving endangered species to the brink of extinction and putting the livelihoods dependant on them at risk, revealed a report on Tuesday.
The report ‘Not For Sale’ by the World Wide Fund for Nature also sought additional and immediate measures to halt the worrying trend in illegal trafficking for international trade of CITES-listed species in the world’s most ecologically important places — including World Heritage Sites (under natural category) in India.
CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), an international agreement between governments, ensures that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. There are over 35,000 species (over 5,000 animals and 30,000 plants) listed under CITES.
According to the report, species mainly targeted in the World Heritage sites includes snow leopard, rhino, eastern swamp deer, white-lipped peccary – a hog like animal, jaguar and elephants among others.
The 52-page-report points out seven natural sites in India and among them some rarest of the rare species like pangolins and snow leopards.
The sites in India named include Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Keoladeo National Park, Western Ghats, Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area and Khangchendzonga National Park that was only last year named a World heritage site.
“Natural World Heritage sites are among the most recognized natural sites for their universal value. Yet many are threatened by destructive industrial activities and our new report shows that their often unique animals and plants are also affected by over-exploitation and trafficking,” said Marco Lambertini, Director General at WWF International.
Lambertini said: “Unless they are protected effectively, we will lose them forever. Governments must redouble their efforts and address the entire wildlife trafficking value chain, before it’s too late.”
In the report Lambertini also seeks more collaboration and integration between CITES, the World Heritage Convention and national authorities to lead a more coordinated, comprehensive response to halt wildlife trafficking – from harvesting of species in source countries, transportation through processing destinations, to sales in consumer markets.