Wild Cats overview

Trade bans can work. In the short term, they can provide breathing space for species in sudden and immediate danger, so that the drivers of trade can be identified and remedial actions implemented.

This can be the case where the volume of trade is so large and the velocity so high that a trade ban is appropriate through application of the Precautionary Principle, which requires erring on the conservative side when making a decision to decrease protection [1,7]. A ban may give the population time to recover, yet trade bans can also backfire, meaning they may have worse outcomes than being ineffective or causing inefficient allocation of resources. A sharp increase in poaching and rise in commercial value may coincide with their implementation (or even announcement thereof) [8, 11]. When a “Perfect Storm” exists, a trade ban may be the final blow to an endangered species. Three species, the tiger, elephant and rhino, illustrate this situation.

The tiger, Panthera tigris, is listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [12]. Comparing today’s wild tiger populations with those two tiger generations ago in the 1990’s suggests a decline of over 50% [12]. The breeding population, considered to be a key indicator of the health of the species, has declined by more than 20% during the last two tiger generations, and this decline may not be reversible [12]. Three of the original eight sub-species have gone extinct since the 1950s, and it is thought that a fourth is also extinct [12,13]. All tiger sub-species were listed on Appendix I in 1975, with the exception of the Amur tiger, which was listed in 1989.

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Conservation Influencers

Conservation Influencers is a searchable directory of the animal activist, environmental and ecological lobby. It examines the history, mission, methodology and reputation of NGOs to assess their impact on the global conservation cause.

Franz Weber Foundation

From 1990 until 2015, Franz Weber Foundation (FFW) managed the Fazao-Malfakassa National Park in Togo, which was, according to an in-depth investigation by Duke University, ‘established by forcing the local communities off their land and without taking into consideration their point of view’. That same study cited convincing evidence from reports published in 1990, confirming that competition for land use was already ‘creating conflict between the local communities and park managers’. In 2015 Togo refused to renew FFW’s contract because, the report says, ‘local communities were still excluded from the management of the natural resources of their land’ and FFW had ‘failed to fulfil its contract’. Franz Weber Foundation plays a major role within CITES because it funds and manages from Switzerland the African Elephant Coalition (AEC), which represents 32 African range states, some of which have barely any elephants and others none at all. Contrary to the wishes of the range states in Southern Africa, which manage most of the world’s wild elephant populations, the AEC at CITES’ CoPs repeatedly tables proposals to put all of the world’s elephants in appendix I. And the AEC uses its voting power to keep in place prohibitions on ivory sales and all other trade in elephant-related derivatives, including skins and hair, which Southern African nations wish to legalise.