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Conservationists warned of "unprecedented" species declines Saturday as countries met in Geneva to tighten rules on trade in elephant ivory and products from other endangered animal and plants.
Thousands of conservationists and policymakers from more than 180 countries will meet for 12 days to evaluate regulations and species protection listings under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Business - Option - CITES - Secretary - General
"Business as usual is no longer an option," CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero said at the start of the meeting, warning that "nature's dangerous decline is unprecedented."
The treaty, created more than four decades ago, regulates trade in over 35,000 species of plants and animals and contains mechanisms to help crack down on illegal trade and sanction countries that break the rules.
Sense - Urgency - Conference - Changes - Protection
The sense of urgency was palpable at the conference, which will evaluate 56 proposed changes to protection listings, for species of large mammals like elephants, rhinos and giraffes, but also otters, lizards, sharks, and tree and plant species.
The meeting follows warnings about rapid species decline, with a UN report in May indicating that one million species are being pushed to the brink of extinction.
Fear - Edge - Higuero - AFP - Conference
"My fear is that we are... now really on the edge," Higuero told AFP ahead of the conference, saying she hoped the delegates in Geneva would "make what we call transformative change."
Swiss Interior Minister Alain Berset also called for "strong and urgent" action.
Conference - Switzerland - Moment - Bombings - Host
"There is no alternative," he told the conference, which was moved to Switzerland at the last moment following the deadly suicide bombings that hit the originally-scheduled host Sri Lanka in April.
The devastation caused to many species by poaching and booming illegal wildlife trade will be in the spotlight during the meeting, as will new challenges arising from illicit commerce increasingly moving online.
Issue - Trade - Problem - Higuero
"The issue of illegal trade is really a massive problem," Higuero said, pointing out that huge...
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