Posted in: Animal News

CITES 2013: China Changes Course, Wants To Take Lead Role In Conservation Efforts

CITES China tortoise and turtles

China wants to become a leader in turtle and tortoise conservation. The nation that has long been known for illegal international animal trading incidents now wants to join in the fight to protect shelled, finned, and furry creatures.

Chinese representatives took a decidedly strong stance for animal rights during the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) summit. The CITES meeting occurs every three years to discuss the bans and restriction on the trade of endangered animals.

A total of 177 counties were represented during the 2013 meeting about endangered species. China was hoist into the spotlight when the country voiced a desire to take a lead role in conservation. During the animal and habitat protection summit, approximately 70 animals were nominated to garner greater protection. Forty different animals were placed on a list of conservation proposals jointly submitted by the United States and China.

Tortoises and freshwater turtles were on the top of China’s animal conservation list, according to the Wall Street Journal. Humane Society International Director Teresa Telecky had this to say about China’s new involvement in measured designed to thwart illegal endangered species trade:

“In many ways I think China is almost the centerpiece of this meeting. Firstly, China has all these turtles and tortoise proposals. But it’s also a consumer of so much illegal trade. China will be on everyone’s lips.”

At previous CITES meetings, China also made conservation proposals, but never on such a grand scale. During the past three illegal international animal trade and endangered species summits, China made no wildlife proposals at all. During the 2002 convention, China also presented a proposal to offer greater protection to tortoises and turtles.

Turtles and tortoises are at increased risk because affluent citizens of China are reportedly eating more of the reptiles. The proposals submitted by both the United States and China indicate that Chinese farmers are breeding “millions” of turtles for human consumption.

Even though tortoise and turtle breeding is churning out massive reptiles destined to become entrees on a regular basis supply has not been able to keep up with demand. Excerpts from both CITES meeting animal conservation proposals turtle populations are decreasing throughout Asia due to human consumption.

An excerpt from one of the CITES proposals reads:

“Trade in Asian turtle species continues to follow a boom and bust pattern in which exploitation and trade shift from one species to another when a species becomes so depleted or rare that it is no longer commercially exploitable.”

In 2012 the endangered animals convention gave China a “certificate of commendation” for efforts to stop the illegal trade of animal parts. Although the country readily accepted the award the demand for ivory is still expanding in the country.

China currently allows the “harvesting” of bile from moon bears to be used in traditional medicines. Wild bears are reportedly kept in very small spaces so the bile can be extracted. The trade of “farmed” tigers also remains legal in the nation.

Do you think the demand for tortoise and turtles will decrease in China now that leaders submitted proposals to stop their illegal trade?

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