Concerns over endangered animal and plant species have called for an immediate international conference to be opened in Geneva, aiming at tightening rules on trade of elephant ivory, amid growing alarm over accelerating extinctions of endangered animals, AFP reported on Saturday, August 17th.
The meeting, scheduled to take place for 12 days, includes thousands of conservationists and policymakers from more than 180 countries to evaluate regulations and species protection listings under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
According to CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero, who warned at the start of the meeting that the decline of the species has been unprecedented in the last couple of years, added that the matter should be treated with utmost concern and that is no longer business as usual.
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.
The meeting, however, comes after a warning about rapid species decline, with a UN report in May indicating that one million species are being pushed to the brink of extinction.
Higuero later expressed his fears about living on the edge and that extinction is only imminent, he then called for the delegates in Geneva to take appropriate measures to contain the crisis.
Inger Anderson, who heads the United Nations Environment Programme, echoed her sense of urgency, warning the conference that "we are losing species at a rate never seen before,” adding that the future of biodiversity is at stake and that they have a unique opportunity to change the course.
One of 56 proposals on the meeting's agenda aims to prevent traffickers from passing off illegal elephant ivory as coming from mammoths, by listing the long-extinct mammals as a threatened species and thus subject to regulated trade.
Along with the African giraffe facing a "silent extinction,” there are other species as well who are facing the same fate, for instance, the Southern white rhinos, the American crocodile, and a range of shark and ray species that are also on the agenda, according to AFP.