In an effort to protect endangered species, Southeast Asian countries have pledged to step up conservation measures or else face sanctions
A cook at Le Mat, a village near Hanoi known for its many snake restaurants, shows off a cobra before dishing it up. In Vietnam, and across much of Asia, snake is popular for the alleged medicinal powers hidden in the reptile’s blood.
The snake trade was one of the issues on the agenda of the 16th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), held in Bangkok, where stakeholders attempted to improve traceability of cobras and pythons and related snake products. It is currently difficult for buyers to determine whether the snakes were bred in captivity or caught in the wild, where they are protected.
The conference, which marked the 40th anniversary of the convention, made significant progress in efforts to protect several species of shark and endangered hardwood trees, by adopting proposals to control their trade. Furthermore it put pressure on host country Thailand to curb the illicit ivory trade. In Thailand, it is legal to sell ivory from domesticated elephants – a loophole which is used by poachers to ‘launder’ illegal African ivory.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has promised that Thai laws will be amended to better protect elephants.
If signatory countries fail to live up to Cites obligations, they can be sanctioned from July 2014. Under the convention, member states can halt trading with offender countries that traffick in the 35,000 species covered by the convention.
CITES – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora