African wildlife is threatened as never before but the will to enforce conservation must come from within the continent
Around the world, people are looking to the recent meeting in Johannesburg of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to help end the elephant and rhino poaching crisis. This hope is misplaced.
The convention is, by definition, about legal trade in endangered species. It determines what species of animals and plants can be traded by law-abiding nations and citizens. The poaching crisis, conversely, is about illegal trade and is driven by individuals and entities that are not bothered by the niceties of law, much less relatively toothless international conventions. (This is not to say that Cites is irrelevant to the poaching crisis. Sadly, Cites has an important and unfortunate indirect impact on illegal trade by creating conditions and sending messages to the marketplace that inadvertently help promote a parallel, illegal trade.)