As stakeholders prepare to convene at the Sandton Convention Centre for the 17th Conference of Parties (CoP17) to discuss proposed changes to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), a sample of assessments from the soon-to-be completed national Mammal Red List has revealed reasons to be concerned about illegal trading of wildlife.
“This important work reflects the conservation status of these mammals in 2016, and, worryingly, exemplifies the intensifying threat of illegal hunting and international wildlife trafficking,” Cites said in a statement.
The Red List is a globally recognised tool, established in 1963 to categorise the risk of extinction for the world’s species.
Currently, of the 84 Cites-listed mammal species or subspecies within South Africa, two are critically endangered, six are endangered, 13 are vulnerable and six are near threatened in the revised national Red List.
“The new Red List highlights some real conservation success stories, often driven by cooperation between conservationists and the private sector,” says Matthew Child, coordinator of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) Mammal Red List Project.
“Today, South Africa is the only country where numbers of wild lions are stable in formal protected areas and increasing through the expansion of private protected areas.”
Despite these victories, several species have become more threatened, due largely to persecution, poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife.
Examples include leopards, Temminck’s ground pangolin and the southern white rhinoceros.
The main intensifying threats are illegal hunting for bushmeat, traditional medicine and cultural regalia; and the escalating threat of international wildlife trafficking through criminal syndicates.
“Conservationists will continue to strive to protect all our species and landscapes, and the Red List is a valuable tool for achieving this,” says South African National Biodiversity Institute’s Prof John Donaldson.
The full 2016 Mammal Red List findings will be released in November.