Today is World Wildlife Day. It’s the very first commemoration focused on a critical theme – the global trade in endangered species of wild animals and plants. Please see below a release from BirdsCaribbean (formerly the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds) in relation to the birds in our region. For further details, you may also visit the UN World Wildlife Day page: http://www.un.org/en/events/wildlifeday/. You can also “like” BirdsCaribbean on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @BirdsCaribbean.
March 3, 2014
2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – March 3, 1973. To mark the anniversary, 3 March, 2014 has been chosen as the first ever World Wildlife Day. It is an important moment in global biodiversity conservation as CITES is a historic international agreement made between the governments of 180 member countries to protect earth’s species from the threat of exploitation due to trade.
BirdsCaribbean joins in this 40th anniversary by reflecting on the loss of several poorly-known Caribbean birds that historical sources indicate were lost to senseless hunting, poaching, and trade. For example, in the last 400 years the region has lost an estimated 14 birds in the parrot family (most notably our macaws and parrots) to this cause of extinction. Today poaching and trade remains a pervasive threat to many species of birds, among other vertebrates groups regionally. Caribbean birds including hummingbirds, finches, and all the Amazon parrots are all targets of criminals willing to exploit our region’s biological resources.
These wildlife crimes are real crimes. They rob society of unique cultural heritages, destabilize ecosystems, and remove economic opportunities (nature tourism is the fastest growing segment of the global tourism market). Irrespective of its scale, we can all help to stop the trade in endangered species by not purchasing wildlife products (meats, souvenirs, pets); actively discouraging others to take wild animals; and reporting offenses to the media, local authorizes, and the police.
When more people take action to stop practices that permit the taking and trafficking of wildlife within our communities, the future of several of our most at risk Caribbean species will be more secure. Add your voice to our call to make wildlife crimes no less important than the theft, exploitation or destruction of any of our other valuable natural resources.
Leo R. Douglas, Ph.D.
Department of Geography/Geology
University of the West Indies, Mona