Panama City (AFP) – A global wildlife summit in Panama will decide whether to take action to protect the translucent glass frog and 12 species of freshwater turtles in the last week, which started Monday.
Conservation experts and delegates from more than 180 countries kicked off the week with a decision to maintain a ban on the white rhino horn trade, despite a request from Eswatini backed by Japan and several other African countries.
The small country, formerly known as Swaziland, had argued that money from rhino horn sales would help conserve the endangered species.
Delegates met last Monday to discuss 52 proposals to change protection levels set by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
In the coming days, the fate of some unique amphibians will be up for debate.
“Freshwater turtles are among the most important groups trafficked in the countries, and there is a lot of pressure for international trade,” said Yovana Murillo, who leads an anti-wildlife trade program for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru want to list two species of matamata turtles, which live in the Amazon and Orinoco basins, on CITES Appendix II, which requires tracking and regulation of trade.
Doris Rodrigues of the Peruvian forestry agency told AFP that the striking matamata tortoises, with their beetle-like appearance, have become desirable pets and “face many threats”.
These include habitat destruction, pollution, illegal trade and hunting for their meat and eggs.
Delegates will also debate regulating trade in the nocturnal glass frog, which is found in several rainforests in Central and South America.
The amphibian is an increasingly popular pet. Some have a lime green color while others have translucent bellies and chests.
“They are collected for their beauty. They are trafficked and some are in critical danger,” Rodriguez said.
CITES, in force since 1975, regulates trade in some 36,000 species of plants and animals and provides mechanisms to combat illegal trade. It imposes sanctions on countries that break the rules.
The Meeting of the Parties to the Convention takes place every two or three years.
On Friday, deputies rejected a request by Zimbabwe to resume ivory trade in some South African countries, a move that has been praised by conservation NGOs.
During the conference, there was fierce debate about the vaquita, a porpoise species that lives in Mexico’s Gulf of California and is threatened with extinction.
On the eve of the summit, CITES gave Mexico an ultimatum to make progress in protecting the world’s most endangered marine animal by February 2023 or face sanctions against fish exports.
Washington has argued its neighbor is not doing enough to protect the world’s most endangered marine animal, while Mexico has countered that it had stepped up naval surveillance in the Gulf.
Good news also came from the top: the Aleutian cackling goose was moved from the list of most endangered species to species no longer threatened with extinction, after numbers increased.
“This is a positive story about the recovery of a species,” emphasized the chairman of the committee that approved the move, Britain’s Vincent Fleming.
© 2022 AFP