AWI Quarterly

Ebola Strikes in Gabon

In the West African nations of Gabon and the Republic of Congo, at least 34 people have died in a recent outbreak of the Ebola virus. Gabon's border with the Republic of the Congo has been sealed off and similar restrictions are being placed on provinces within the country. While the death toll rises from this disease, which is estimated to kill 90 percent of its victims, rumors swirl about whether the infection is being spread by the consumption of meat from infected primates.

A dead monkey awaits the cooking pot in Gabon. (AP/Wide World Photos)

Authorities in Gabon have urged local villagers to abstain from eating bushmeat, but it is unclear whether this sage advice will be heeded. According to a recent Reuters report, a traditional Christmas meal in Gabon could include monkeys, chimpanzees, gazelles, or wild boar. Other mammals in Gabon that have been identified by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as being in the commercial bushmeat trade include the mandrill, Moustached monkey, Black colobus, and Grey-cheeked mangabey.

The CITES Bushmeat Working Group meeting in Cameroon in January 2001 revealed that some 68 species were threatened in Gabon by poaching for the bushmeat trade. However, the infrastructure to combat this poaching does not exist: staff is inadequately trained and the ability to monitor protected areas is lacking. Enforcement of Gabon's ban on bushmeat hunting is poor, and villagers apparently continue to consume the flesh of these wild animals, despite the potentially grave risks.

The Ebola virus (Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and can be spread through contact with an infected animal such as primates in Africa. According to the Centers for Disease Control, within a few days, patients may suffer flu-like symptoms. Within a week of infection, chest pain, shock, bleeding, blindness, and death may result.

2002-The International Year of Ecotourism

W e should all be lucky enough to experience the exhilaration of driving across the Maasai Mara land in Kenya and seeing a cheetah on the hunt; the surprise of seeing minke whales surface around a boat on a brisk afternoon whale-watching adventure off the coast of Maine; the haunting sounds of the morning calls of endangered lemurs in Madagascar (the indri) from high in the rainforest's treetops; the awesome magnitude of Victoria Falls, dividing Zimbabwe and Zambia, and whitewater rafting down the Zambezi river; or watching vibrantly colored toucans eating bananas from a nearby tree while drinking your morning coffee in Costa Rica.

"Ecotourism"-adventurous travels based on the splendors of the natural world, including wildlife and wild places-is a vital part of the conservation of the environment and the animal species living within it. It is also a fundamental mechanism to assist local communities in their economic development by bringing in foreign visitors, and foreign dollars, to these indigenous peoples. This is why it is so important that the United Nations (UN) declared 2002 the "International Year of Ecotourism."

The UN Resolution making the declaration notes "that travel and tourism provide a source of income for many people," and "that travel and tourism contribute to the conservation, protection and restoration of the Earth's ecosystem." After agriculture, tourism is the biggest benefactor to the development of Kenya's economy. Wildlife-viewing safaris bring about one million visitors to the country annually. Whale-watching alone is thought to bring in a total of more than one billion dollars to the economies of 80 countries across the globe.

A toucan eats a morning breakfast of bananas at La Laguna del Lagarto Lodge in northern Costa Rica near the Nicaraguan border. (Ben Dykes/Born Free Foundation)

But ecotourism must be responsible tourism. On Cat Ba Island in Vietnam, for instance, the near extinct Cat Ba, or golden-headed langur, clings to life (this primate was featured on the cover of the Fall 2001 AWI Quarterly). More than 70,000 tourists visit the island each year and while tourism supports the local economy, it also leads to difficulties in waste disposal, which fouls the natural environment, as well as increased pressures to build intrusive roads and bridges to accommodate the visitors. As well, Tilo Nadler of the Endangered Primate Rescue Center in Vietnam reports, "The tourist demand for wild-animal meat increases the hunting pressure inside the national park; the collection of geckoes, snakes, frogs...." Some restaurants in town offer wild animal meat from macaques, civets, birds, and other animals.

Tour operators must tread lightly on the lands used by wildlife and international visitors. It's important to be respectful when watching wildlife and not interfere in their natural way of life. Heed the motto: "Take only photographs; leave only footprints."

Perhaps 2002 is the year for you to visit Kenya's elephants, Costa Rica's black howler monkeys, or any of the other amazing wild animals and places around the globe.

UN Speaks Out Again on Illegal Exploitation in the DRC

In a follow-up report on the state of illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the United Nations Panel of Experts has recommended a moratorium on the purchasing and importing of various products from the region including coltan, diamonds, gold, and timber (see Summer 2001 AWI Quarterly, "Militants and Profiteers Wipe Out Wildlife in the DRC"). The Panel notes that the DRC's history "has been one of systematic abuse of its natural and human resources... backed by the brutal use of force and directed to the benefit of a powerful few."

Under the watchful eyes of the male silverback mountain gorilla, his group takes a siesta.  All gorillas are threatened by the violent conflict in the DRC. (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International)

The DRC, home to numerous threatened and endangered species such as gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, elephants, and lions, has become a veritable cookie jar of natural resource pilfering-with several countries and unsavory characters sticking in their hands. The Ugandan army carries out gold mining in DRC. Zimbabwe, a fierce opponent of the international ban on commercial trade in elephant ivory, is particularly involved in DRC deforestation. A British nongovernmental organization, Global Witness, reported of a deal struck by Zimbabwe's embattled president, Robert Mugabe, to log 33 million hectares in the DRC, 15 percent of the territory. Zimbabwe also is heavily involved in mining for copper and cobalt.

DRC government officials are involved in embezzling diamonds that are allegedly smuggled through South Africa, another proponent of the global ivory trade. Coltan, a metal ore used in hi-tech and communications devices and which is a vital component in cell phones, is removed from DRC by a number of groups, notably the Rwandan army, and exported worldwide.

After publication of the UN Panel's initial report, the price for coltan (columbo-tantalite), dubbed "blood tantalum," dropped from $300 a pound in 2000 to an average of $25 a pound in 2001. Legislation has been introduced in the US Congress by Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) to prohibit the importation of coltan into the US from countries supporting the violent conflict in the DRC (specifically, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and the DRC itself). Said the Congresswoman, "This legislation, supported by the Ambassador of the DRC, would begin to institute the tough measures necessary to end this horrible and deadly conflict." Meanwhile, the Security Council will consider the Panel's recommendation of a trade moratorium with the DRC. If that doesn't work, the Panel has already introduced the idea of imposing sanctions. A new Panel has been convened to follow-up the ongoing work by the United Nations on this matter.

Nyiragongo Erupts!

Wildlife in the DRC and surrounding regions is imperiled by the January 17 eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, about six miles outside the city of Goma near the Rwandan border. The lava flow has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in the area.

According to NASA, "biomass burned from Nyriagongo, and nearby Mount Nyamuragira, eruptions tends to create clouds of smoke that adversely affect the Mountain Gorillas living in the adjacent mountain chain."

Gorillas are already under pressure in the area from habitat destruction and poaching. Chimpanzees and other wild animals are similarly at risk.

Saying Goodbye and a Profound Thank You to Astrid Lindgren

Astrid Lindgren, an author of original genius whose appeal was worldwide, has died at 94. She will be mourned by all who seek to protect the billions of animals in animal factories. When she was awarded the Animal Welfare Institute's Albert Schweitzer Medal in 1988 Ambassador Wachtmeister said, "In Sweden, she is not only the most famous lady, she is the most beloved. I am sure that if the animals could vote, the majority would be still greater in her favor."

Astrid Lindgren looking at
her Schweitzer Medal.

Her books were translated into 60 languages, and more than 130 million copies were sold. Most famous were her stories of tales about Pippi Longstocking, which she made for her young daughter while nursing her through pneumonia. Then while Astrid herself was confined to her bed by a badly sprained ankle, she wrote them down.

Astrid led the way in forthright correspondence with the Prime Minister. Her letters were always printed in Stockholm's biggest newspaper, Expressen-later they were published by AWI in English. Astrid tells of her family's herd of cows who grazed happily on their lush green pasture. When Astrid was a small child, Bessie, one of the cows, lifted Astrid upon her horns and tossed her across the grass toward the farm house. Far from being frightened, this early experience led Astrid to fiercely defend cows and attack industrial dairy farming, in which cows are confined to stalls year round rather than being allowed outside to eat the grass in summer.

In accepting the Schweitzer Medal Astrid said, "almost 80 years later [after being tossed by Bessie], I wrote an article about cows. About how dreary the life of a cow could be nowadays. A cow didn't get to graze anymore, her calf was taken from her as soon as it was born, and, worst of all, she could no longer be courted by an interested bull. The inseminator came instead, and that was not the same.

"After that article I got a letter from a female veterinarian, Kristina Forslund. She was-and still is-a docent at the Swedish University of Agriculture. She described her experiences as a veterinarian, with full insight in our animal husbandry, and it was a harrowing account about indecent treatment of animals. She succeeded in making me so upset that even now, three years later, I still haven't gotten over it. Kristina asked me to help her in her struggle to bring about better animal husbandry. She thought-optimist that she is-that everyone would listen to me. At any rate we managed to rouse a massive public reaction, which finally resulted in a new animal protection law in Sweden.  The Prime Minister himself came to my home to deliver the good news. The new law was supposed to be a kind of birthday present for me! Goodness gracious, what a wonderful present! But it turned out not to be that wonderful-not on every point-not for all animals. There is a great deal more that must be changed, before one can lean back and relax!

Swedish children dressed for the Feast of St. Lucia join Astrid in singing some of the many songs she wrote.

"And that is one of the reasons I am so happy to receive this medal. It gives me the guts to continue the struggle! The struggle, yes indeed. There are reactionaries back home, you know, they don't want any changes. It is impossible, they say. It is too expensive they say. But let us hope that we one day can get an animal protection law as kind and decent as people in other countries believe that we already have.

"For your help and encouragement, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

"I am sure that all Swedish cows and bulls and calves and pigs and sheep and chickens and hens are joining me when I say it once more!

"Thank you!"

Songbirds for food!

Songbirds for food! Compared with this, making kindlings of pianos and violins would be pious economy.-Our National Parks by John Muir

Trying to sneak legislation through Michigan's State Legislature repealing its 92 year-old ban on dove hunting has become more of an annual tradition for the US Sportsmen's Alliance (formerly the Wildlife Legislative Fund of America), National Rifle Association (NRA), and guns and ammunition lobby than their claim about dove hunting itself.

As the Michigan legislature recessed for its 2001 year-end break, the most recent bill (HB 5478) introduced by Representative Cameron Brown (R-Sturgis) was put on hold. This bill would allow the unelected, politically appointed Natural Resources Commission to decide which animals and birds can be hunted, taking the authority away from the legislature whose members answer to voters.

Preventing dove hunting has broad public support. The Detroit Free Press reports that Representative Susan Tabor (R-Lansing), sponsor of last year's failed attempt to repeal the ban on dove hunting, has her "fingerprints on Brown's bill." Chris Christoff, a reporter for the newspaper, said in his latest column that "no other single issue-not abortion, taxes, pay raises for politicians, nothing-elicits the outpouring of public outrage that shooting doves does. Lawmakers will tell you that. I'll attest, too."

In Wisconsin, the state's symbol of peace lost a very important legal battle this January when Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser upheld the Department of Natural Resources establishment of a hunting season. Groups that filed the suit have not decided if they will appeal. The first 60-day dove-hunting season was cancelled pending this decision.

Wildlife and Drug Smuggling: A Tangled Tale

Customs officials warned Jeffrey Allen Doth, operator of the Texas-based International Exotic Wildlife, of the proper procedures for importing wildlife when, at age 25, he was caught smuggling wildlife into the US. A year later, in 1995, wearing a baggy shirt, Doth boarded a plane with five juvenile green tree pythons concealed in elastic stockings strapped around his waist. The US Customs Service busted him at Los Angeles International Airport for attempting to smuggle the snakes from Indonesia without receiving necessary permits from the Indonesian government or declaring them to Customs.

At Doth's trial he argued that rather than hiding the pythons under his clothing to conceal them, he was merely trying to keep them warm and avoid paying extra airline costs. Doth was found guilty of two felony counts and faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. On October 22, 2001, Doth was sentenced to a lenient four months of home detention, a $5,100 fine, and three years probation.

Less than four months after sentencing, while apparently still under house arrest in Texas, Doth was making trips to Miami to receive wildlife shipments from Guyana. He arranged to get wholesale shipments of exotic mammals and reptiles at cut-rate prices and then to sell some of the wildlife to other dealers, including the infamous drug kingpin and convicted felon Mario Tabraue (see Spring 2001 AWI Quarterly). Dealers or their representatives would meet at the airport to divide each shipment.

In late November, Doth, Miami Reptiles' Michael Powell, Tabraue's transporter Val Lorente, and a Guyanese man, Rajendra Persaud, were at Miami's Airport to receive a shipment of mammals and one of reptiles. The reptile shipment also contained over 100 pounds of cocaine hidden in false bottoms of the transport boxes. Regarding the illegal drugs, Customs is currently focused only on Persaud and another Guyanese man, Doyle Debudin, both of whom allegedly were house guests of one-time wildlife importer Cyril Lowe. Florida Fish and Game appears to be seeking prosecution of Doth for not possessing a wildlife dealer's license and for receiving 17 dwarf caiman without a permit. Excluding the caiman, the Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed the entire shipment, including 12 kinkajous, four two-toed sloths, 18 agoutis, five prehensile-tailed porcupines, and a coatamundi to the prospective dealers! No word on any action against Doth for his travels while under house arrest.

A coatamundi in his native habitat.


Polar Bears Suffer In The Suarez Brothers Circus

By Adam M. Roberts

Amidst the cold Arctic snow and ice of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia massive polar bears travel hundreds of kilometers in search of food and mates every year. They swim in frigid waters, eat and sleep in the open, and hunt for their food of meat and blubber, notably from seals. Fewer than 30,000 polar bears exist in the wild today.

Bears, panting in temperatures over 110oF, are repeatedly whipped and hit in the ear and face with a rod to force them to climb stairs and go down a slide on the other end. (PETA)

In the Suarez Brothers Circus of Mexico, miserable polar bears suffer in confinement and only travel where the circus takes them-even to the warm-weather Caribbean. They live in oppressive heat, exhibit the stereotypic behavior of rocking back and forth insanely in their cages, have little access to water or air conditioning, and eat whatever food is given to them, including dog chow and lettuce. Seven polar bears languish in these horrid conditions.

The circus is currently in Puerto Rico and faces cruelty charges brought by the Puerto Rican Department of Natural Resources-charges the circus has twice tried, and failed, to have dismissed. A separate suit brought by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Humane Society of Puerto Rico, and private individuals has been filed in a federal court in Washington, DC to keep the bears in the US. Marianne Merritt, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the federal case, stated: "Allowing these arctic animals to be maintained in a tropical climate in such inhumane and deplorable conditions is an abdication of the government agencies' legal duties.  Maintaining polar bears in Puerto Rico is akin to placing an African elephant on the North Pole."

Diana Weinhardt, Chair of the American Zoological Association Bear Technical Advisory Group, visited the facility and observed that some bears flinched when the bears' trainer approached them with a camera and a four and a half foot "fiberglass stick with a blunted point on the end." She added, "The actions I thought were an indication that they have been hit with this stick possibly on a regular basis as a guide to get a desired behavior."

A Puerto Rican veterinarian and zoologist, Dr. Pedro E. Nunez, observed bears "caged individually in spaces too small for their size as the lengths of their bodies were practically reaching from one end to the other." He graphically continued, "They didn't have access to a pool and you could see that some bottles of drinking water were dirty with tomato, lettuce and carrot. A large quantity of bloody diarrhea, with a lot of mucus, was draining from one of the cages, accumulating on the floor, and several flies, attracted by the apparent bad odor of the blood, were clearly visible."

Bears, panting in temperatures over 110°F, are repeatedly whipped and hit in the ear and face with a rod to force them to climb stairs and go down a slide on the other end. (PETA)

According to a Marine Mammal Commission (MMC) review of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports for the circus and a video of the facility, Suarez Brothers is repeatedly out of compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. The polar bears have only occasional access to pools of water and fully air-conditioned holding areas and are receiving poor veterinary treatment. In a letter to the acting administrator of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the MMC offers this synopsis of the polar bears' conditions: "The animals are constantly swaying and panting, suggesting that they are distressed. It appears that neither the air conditioning system nor the fans were operating. The time and temperature are recorded as being 10 a.m. and 112.8 degrees, respectively. The tape also shows that the bears are being maintained in filthy conditions and that waste products, when they are being removed from the transport enclosures, are being deposited directly on the ground adjacent to the enclosures."

At least one animal already has died at Suarez Brothers. According to the MMC, "'Yiopa' died of heart failure due to dirofilariasis. With proper treatment, this should not have been a life-threatening condition. However, that animal was not provided veterinary care until he was in an advanced stage of deterioration and was not treated in a timely fashion after the diagnosis was made."

There is also a looming question about whether these polar bears were captive born or taken (illegally) from the wild. Dr. Terry Maple, President and CEO of Zoo Atlanta, notes that the circus's claim that one of the polar bears was born in Atlanta is false. "These documents are not accurate, since the Atlanta-born bear ("Snowball") died in a German zoo in 1994," Dr. Maple wrote. He noted that the bear must have had another origin and that the circus's records must have been doctored.

While the cruelty case is proceeding, at least 55 Representatives and 16 Senators have weighed in to urge the USDA and the Department of the Interior (DOI) to take appropriate action to ensure the well being of these animals, including confiscating and relocating the polar bears. According to Congressman George Miller (D-CA), "It is disturbing that the two federal agencies responsible for protecting polar bears would allow arctic animals to be held in tropical climates." Several bipartisan measures have been introduced in Congress, including an amendment to the contentious annual "farm bill," to prohibit the exhibition of polar bears by carnivals, circuses, or traveling shows.

There is widespread agreement that it is inhumane and inappropriate for polar bears to be in the Suarez Brothers Circus. Now the Courts, Congress, and the Administration can each take appropriate action to ensure the poor bears' long-term well-being.

Two Bear Stories

China Still Jails Bears

Just months after being awarded the 2008 Olympics, two illegal bear bile factories in China were uncovered by undercover journalists for China's Central Television. Thousands of bears are still kept in cramped cages in China and elsewhere throughout Asia, regularly milked for their bile, which is used in traditional Chinese medicines and can fetch prices higher than gold or heroin on the black market. Reuters reports, "footage showed bears yelping in pain as keepers extracted the bright green liquid....At the second factory, the bears have their teeth and claws removed so they are not a threat to their handlers."

Dead Grizzlies Not
Welcome in the EU

After a partially successful campaign that saw trophy hunting of grizzly bears stopped or reduced in many areas of British Columbia (BC), Canada, last year, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has announced that the 15 European Union (EU) countries have taken the additional step of banning the importation of grizzly bear trophies into the EU from British Columbia.

According to EIA, "The EU accounts for up to 30% of the 120 BC grizzlies killed on average each year by fee-paying foreign hunters. The total hunt including bears killed by Canadians averaged 300 grizzlies per year during the last decade, from a population which independent biologists [estimate] could be as low as 4-6,000."

The United Kingdom and Germany called for the ban to stop the unsustainable BC hunt. Daniela Freyer, International Campaigner with the German organization, Pro-Wildlife, said, "More BC grizzlies end up decorating houses in Germany than almost any other country, so it is fitting that along with the UK it was Germany leading the call for an import ban."

Caribbean Conservation Treaty Spawned

By Adam M. Roberts

Hundreds of species in the Wider Caribbean Region-including the American crocodile, Hawksbill sea turtle, Brown pelican, Cuba Sandhill crane, St. Lucia parrot, Spectacled bear, Giant armadillo, Cuvier's beaked whales, bottle-nosed dolphins and corals-have gained new protection under a Protocol to the Cartagena Convention concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW). When twenty-eight nations signed SPAW in Kingston, Jamaica in January 1990, they did so "conscious of the grave threat posed by ill-conceived development options to the integrity of the marine and coastal environment of the Wider Caribbean Region."

Unlike other multi-lateral conservation treaties such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), SPAW not only protects species by prohibiting trade in wildlife, but also by prohibiting fishing, hunting or harvesting of threatened and endangered species, and by calling on Parties to designate protected areas in their sovereign jurisdiction to sustain "the natural resources of the Wider Caribbean Region." Parties shall, for example, "regulate activities, to the extent possible, that could have harmful effects on the habitats of the species." The protected region under SPAW extends throughout the marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea and areas off the Atlantic coast of Florida.

According to an analysis of SPAW by the United Nations Environment Programme, "248 out of the 481 species covered by, or proposed to be covered by the SPAW Protocol are also currently regulated under CITES." This means that 233 out of the 481 species addressed under SPAW gain international protection that would not exist were it not for this valuable Treaty.

Nine countries that signed the Protocol officially have ratified it: Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Panama, Venezuela, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago. These Parties have historically advocated weak positions on wildlife conservation and endangered species protection. At the most recent meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Nairobi, Kenya, the Cuban delegation worked tirelessly (though, thankfully, unsuccessfully) to reopen the international trade in hawksbill turtle shell at the behest of Japan, the primary market for products made from turtle shell, called "bekko." The representative from the Dominican Republic spoke out in favor of this failed proposal. Cuba and St. Vincent and the Grenadines also spoke out in support of a Japanese proposal at CITES to downlist gray whales. Without the involvement and vote of the United States in SPAW there may be no strong conservation voice during the deliberations of the Parties to SPAW. In fact, Cuba is scheduled to host the first important meeting of the Parties this September.

The Treaty was originally transmitted to the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 20, 1993 and has lain dormant there for eight years now. Then Secretary of State Warren Christopher testified: "All concerned agencies in the Executive Branch strongly support early ratification of the Protocol....I recommend, therefore, that the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife in the Wider Caribbean Region be transmitted to the Senate as soon as possible for its advice and consent to ratification...."

Now, there is an immediate imperative for the Senate to give its advice and consent to ratification to enable the United States to have a vote during the Parties' Havana Conference. The State Department, which sends to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a letter every two years outlining the Administration's Treaty priorities, has assured us that SPAW will be toward the top of that priority list. Unfortunately, other, more controversial Treaties, are slowing down the submission of that letter.

The looming question is whether the Foreign Relations Committee will agree to move the Treaty under the new leadership of Senator Joseph Biden (D,DE), who has assisted nobly in saving dolphins from tuna nets.  If it does, will the Senate approve it, will the President ratify it, and will it be submitted to the depositary government, Colombia, in time for the US to have a vote during the first meeting?

Before the historic Party switch of Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords, the Chairman of the Committee was Republican Jesse Helms. On May 15, 2001, New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith sent a letter to Helms encouraging swift action on the Treaty. "The SPAW Protocol will enhance substantially the ability of nations in the Caribbean region to protect indigenous wildlife and the habitats on which these species depend," wrote Senator Smith. The new Senate leadership should listen to Bob Smith and others in support of the SPAW Protocol and approve it without delay.


Seals are one of the many animals protected under SPAW, Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife. (Kip Evans/NMFS)

Bottlenosed Dolphins, the largest of the beaked dolphins, inhabit shallow, coastal waters, and have been traded live from Cuba, the US and Mexico to Portugal, Spain, Honduras, and elsewhere. (J. Stafford-Deitshch)

Vibrantly plumed scarlet macaws are subjected to illegal international trade and are at risk from the destruction of their forest homes. (Dave G. Houser/CORBIS)

Endangered ocelots, mainly hunted for their fur, inhabit jungles, marshes, and tropical rainforests from the United States, through Mexico and Central America, down through Argentina. (Tom Brakefield/CORBIS)

Report: Japan is Top Importer of Endangered Species


According to Kyodo News Service, February 8, 2000, "Japan in 1996 was the world's top importer of endangered tortoises and birds whose trading is restricted by an international convention, a survey by a Japanese group monitoring wildlife trafficking showed Tuesday.

"Japan also ranked second as an importer of live primates and orchid-type plants listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

            "…According to the survey, Japan bought 29,051 tortoises from abroad, absorbing some 55% of the species traded worldwide, and purchased 136,179 wild and bred birds, or 43% of all birds trafficked globally.

            "…A total of 5,374 live primates such as cynomolgus monkeys and common squirrel monkeys were brought to Japan, the world's second largest amount for trade. Japan was also the second largest importer of furs of animals belonging to the cat family…"

Syndicate content