This article is written by Vanya Verma from Alliance University, Bengaluru. This article talks about the international conventions and treaties that deal with the conservation of wildlife, the actions taken by the conventions and treaties, the reason behind their establishment as well as their functions. Further, this article also talks about India’s role as a part of these treaties and conventions.
Table of Contents
The term “wildlife” encompasses all undomesticated lifeforms, including birds, insects, plants, fungi, and even tiny organisms, in addition to wild animals. Animals, plants, and marine species are just as vital as humans in sustaining a healthy ecological balance on this planet. Each organism on this planet occupies a distinct position in the food chain, contributing to the ecosystem in its unique way.
Unfortunately, many animals and birds have become endangered today. Humans are destroying the natural habitats of animals and plants for land development and farming. Another important fact is that animals are poached and hunted for their fur, jewellery, meat, and leather. Animal poaching and hunting for fur, jewellery, meat, and leather are other major contributors to wildlife extinction. If no immediate action is made to rescue wildlife, it will not be long before they are included in the list of extinct species.
The extinction of wildlife species will very probably result in the extinction of humanity. As a result, it is our responsibility as humans to safeguard the species, our planet, and, most crucially, ourselves.
This article contains the most important wildlife conservation initiatives taken by countries to preserve wildlife. These are as follows-
- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
- Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
- The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC)
- International Whaling Commission (IWC)
- World Heritage Convention (WHC)
- Ramsar Convention
- Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT)
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- Global Tiger Forum (GTF)
- United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)
1. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement to which states and regional economic integration organisations voluntarily sign up.
- CITES was drafted as a result of a resolution passed by members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1963.
- The IUCN is a membership organisation that includes both government and non-governmental organisations. It gives knowledge and methods to public, private, and non-governmental organisations that enable human advancement, economic development, and conservation of nature to take place together.
- CITES came into effect in July 1975. There are now 183 members (including countries or regional economic integration organizations).
- The goal of CITES is to ensure that international trading in wild animal and plant specimens does not endanger their survival.
- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) administers the CITES Secretariat, which is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
- In the operation of the Convention, plays the role of servicing, advisory, and coordinating.
- The Conference of the Parties (CoP) to CITES is the Convention’s top decision-making body, and it comprises all of the Convention’s Parties.
- In 2016, the 17th CoP was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 1981, India hosted the 3rd edition of the CoP.
- Though CITES is legally obligatory on the parties, it does not replace the national legislation of a country. Rather, it establishes a framework that must be followed by each party, which must enact domestic legislation to ensure that CITES is implemented on a national level.
Function of CITES
- The CITES works by imposing restrictions on international trading in specimens of specific species.
- All import, export, re-export, and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention must be authorized by a licensing system.
- Each party who is a member of the Convention must appoint one or more Management Authorities to oversee the licencing system, as well as one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the impacts of trade on the species’ status.
- The Convention’s Appendices I, II, and III contain lists of species that have received various levels or forms of protection from over-exploitation.
- It includes a list of the most endangered animals and plants on the CITES list.
- Gorillas, sea turtles, most lady slipper orchids, and giant pandas are examples that are included in this list. There are currently 931 species listed in Appendix 1.
- They are endangered, and CITES forbids international trade in specimens of these species unless the importation is for non-commercial purposes, such as scientific research.
- Trade may take place in extraordinary circumstances if it is authorised by the issuance of both an import permit and an export permit (or re-export certificate).
- It includes species that aren’t necessarily endangered right now but might become so if the trade isn’t strictly regulated.
- Most CITES species, including American ginseng, paddlefish, lions, American alligators, mahogany, and many corals, are included in this Appendix. There are currently 34,419 species on the list.
- It also contains “look-alike” species, that is species whose trade specimens resemble those species that are classified for conservation purposes.
- The awarding of an export permit or re-export certificate may authorise international trading in specimens of Appendix-II species.
- Under CITES, these species do not require an import permit (although a permit is needed in some countries that have taken stricter measures than CITES requires).
- Permits or certifications should only be issued if the relevant authorities are satisfied that certain conditions are met, most notably that trade will not jeopardise the survival of species in the wild.
- It’s a list of species that have been included at the request of a Party that already regulates trade in the species but needs other nations’ help to prevent unsustainable or unlawful exploitation.
- Map turtles, walruses, and Cape stag beetles are just a few examples that are included in this Appendix. There are now 147 species on the list.
- International trading in specimens of the species described in this Appendix is only permitted if the appropriate permits or certificates are shown.
Only the Conference of the Parties has the authority to add or remove species from Appendix I and II, or to shift species between them. Species may, however, be unilaterally added to or removed from Appendix III at any time and by any Party.
Contribution of CITES
CITES governs international trade in nearly 35,000 species of plants and animals.
- 3 % of these species are normally barred from international commercial trade,
- The remaining 97 % of international commercial trade is controlled to guarantee that it is lawful, sustainable, and traceable.
For the past 42 years, CITES has been at the forefront of the debate over the sustainable use of biodiversity, and its databases contain records of over 12,000,000 international trade transactions – a trade that has benefited local communities on numerous occasions, such as with the vicuña in South America. Appendix II enables the international trading of wool cloth and other manufactured products derived from the shearing of live vicuña (luxury and knitted handicrafts).
It is estimated that illegal commerce is worth between USD 5 billion and USD 20 billion per year, an illegal activity that is driving numerous species to extinction while also denying local people development options and governments of revenue opportunities.
To combat illegal wildlife trade, the CITES Secretariat, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank, and the World Customs Organization formed the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).
It brings together the whole enforcement chain to aid national and regional enforcement authorities in combating illegal wildlife trading.
India and CITES
India is one of the world’s acknowledged mega-diverse countries, home to approximately 7-8 percent of the world’s recorded species and four of the 34 globally recognised biodiversity hotspots (Himalaya, Indo-Burma, Western Ghats, and Sundaland).
In addition to biological resources, India has a rich library of traditional knowledge. In the 10 biogeographic areas of the country, about 91,200 animal species and 45,500 plant species have been identified.
Through regular surveys and research, inventories of floral and faunal diversity are being gradually updated with various discoveries.
- India, as a CITES Party, vigorously forbids the international trade in endangered wild species and has put in place several measures to combat invasive alien species concerns (e.g. certificates for exports, permits for imports, etc.).
- India has requested that rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) be removed from CITES Appendix II. The species spreads quickly and has the potential to become naturalised outside of its native region; it is also invasive in other parts of the world.
- It is not essential to regulate the species’ trade to keep it from being eligible for inclusion in Appendix I in the foreseeable future.
- Small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus), smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale Perspicillata), and Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone E#legans) have also been suggested to be moved from Appendix II to Appendix I, offering the species extra protection.
- The plan also calls for the Gekko gecko and Wedgefish (Rhinidae) to be added to CITES’ Appendix II. For Chinese traditional medicine, the Gekko gecko is highly traded.
2. Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
- Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is also known as the Bonn Convention. It is the sole treaty that addresses the capture or harvesting of wild species. Currently, it safeguards 173 migratory species from all over the world.
- The Convention was enforced on November 1, 1983. The Secretariat, which administers the Convention, was established in 1984.
- As of November 1, 2019, the Convention had 130 parties, including 129 countries and the European Union. The Maldives is the most recent country to join (November 2019).
- Covered Species: There are two Appendices to the Convention:
- Appendix I is a list of endangered or threatened migratory species. Parties commit to closely protecting these creatures, conserving or restoring their habitats, removing migration barriers, and limiting other causes that may imperil them.
- Appendix II of the Convention lists migratory species that require protection and management or would benefit greatly from international cooperation.
- Migratory Species: A migratory species crosses one or more national jurisdictional lines cyclically and reliably due to factors such as food, temperature, and shelter.
- Its purpose is to define States’ obligations to conserve species that live within or travel through their national borders/jurisdiction.
India and the CMS
- Since 1983, India has been a signatory to the Convention.
- India and the CMS have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the protection and management of Siberian Cranes (1998), Marine Turtles (2007), Dugongs (2008), and Raptors (2016).
- With 2.4 percent of the world’s land area, India’s contribution is about 8% of all known global biodiversity.
- The Indian subcontinent is part of a huge bird flyway network, the Central Asian Flyway, which spans the Arctic and Indian Oceans and includes at least 279 populations of 182 different migratory waterbird species (that includes 29 globally threatened species).
- Several migratory species are temporarily provided shelter in India. Species such as Amur Falcons, Bar-headed Geese, Black-necked Cranes, Marine Turtles, Dugongs, and Humpback Whales, are temporarily housed in India.
- A Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) has been in existence since 1983, under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme, to preserve migratory species throughout their range countries.
- A global platform is provided through this convention for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. The Convention brings together the States through which migratory animals pass that is the Range States and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.
- The 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, from February 17 to 22, 2020.
‘Migratory species connect the planet and we welcome them home,’ was the theme of CMS COP-13.
‘Gibi — The Great Indian Bustard’ was the mascot for CMS COP-13. According to the IUCN, it is a critically endangered species that has been given the highest protection classification (listed in Schedule I) under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
3. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
Environment leaders agreed on a comprehensive strategy for “sustainable development” during the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, guaranteeing that we meet our needs while also leaving a healthy and viable world for future generations. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was one of the most important accords signed in Rio.
The Convention on Biological Diversity is an international legal instrument that has been ratified by 196 countries and is dedicated to “the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilisation of genetic resources.”
Aichi biodiversity targets
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the “Aichi Biodiversity Targets” during its Nagoya Summit. It is a short-term plan that consists of a series of 20 ambitious yet attainable aims known as the Aichi Targets. They are classified as follows:
- Strategic Goal A: Address the root causes of biodiversity decline by integrating biodiversity into all aspects of government and society.
- Strategic Goal B: Reduce direct impacts on biodiversity and promote long-term use. Strategic Goal B.
- Strategic Goal C: Ecosystems, species, and genetic diversity are all part of this goal, which aims to improve biodiversity.
- Strategic Goal D: Increase the advantages of biodiversity and ecosystem services to all people.
- Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participative planning, knowledge management, and capacity building.
India and CBD
The Sixth National Report on Biological Diversity was recently submitted by India to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
India is one of the first five countries in the world to submit the report, as well as the first in Asia and among the biodiversity-rich megadiverse countries.
Parties to international treaties, including the CBD, are required to submit national reports as part of their obligations. India, as a responsible nation, has never broken its international commitments and has already filed five national reports to the CBD on time.
Highlights of the report
Highlights of the study include an update on progress toward achieving 12 National Biodiversity Targets (NBTs) created through the convention process and aligned with the 20 global Aichi biodiversity targets.
According to the report, India has exceeded/overachieved two NBTs and is on track to achieve eight NBTs.
According to the report, India has met 17 percent of Aichi goal 11’s terrestrial component and 20 percent of the relevant NBT relating to areas under biodiversity management.
In addition, India has been investing a significant amount in biodiversity, either directly or indirectly, through many development programs run by the central and state governments, to the tune of Rs 70,000 crores per year, compared to an estimated yearly requirement of roughly Rs 1,09,000 crore.
India’s 12 national biodiversity targets were as follows:
- By 2020, a large section of the population, particularly the youth, will be aware of the importance of biodiversity and the efforts they may take to protect and use it sustainably.
- Biodiversity values are included in national and state planning procedures, development programs, and poverty alleviation methods by 2020.
- By 2020, strategies for lowering the rate of degradation, fragmentation, and loss of all-natural habitats have been finalised, and actions for environmental improvement and human well-being have been implemented.
- By 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants, farm livestock, and their wild relatives, including other socioeconomically and culturally important species, will have been preserved, and strategies for minimising genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity will have been developed and implemented.
- By 2020, ecosystem services, particularly those related to water, human health, livelihoods, and well-being, will be enumerated, and strategies to protect them will be established, with specific attention paid to the needs of women and local communities, particularly the poor and vulnerable.
- By 2015, the Nagoya Protocol’s access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from their use will be operational, following national legislation.
- At all levels of governance, and effective, participative, and updated national biodiversity action plan is put in place by 2020.
- National initiatives based on communities’ traditional biodiversity knowledge are strengthened by 2020, to safeguard this information in compliance with national legislation and international commitments.
- By 2020, possibilities to expand the availability of financial, human, and technical resources to support the execution of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and national targets will have been identified, and the Resource Mobilization Strategy will have been established.
4. World Heritage Convention
One of the most important worldwide conservation instruments is the World Heritage Convention.
The Convention was established in 1972 with the primary goal of identifying and protecting the world’s natural and cultural heritage that is judged to be of Outstanding Universal Value.
It reflects a visionary idea, that some places are so vital that protecting them is not only the responsibility of a single nation, but also the obligation of the entire world community; and not just for this age, but for future generations.
The Operational Guidelines, which specify the procedures for new inscriptions, site protection, danger-listings, and international support under the World Heritage Fund, aid in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention.
The World Heritage Committee oversees the Convention, which is backed by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the Convention’s administration, and three technical advisory bodies: IUCN, ICOMOS, and ICCROM. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the Advisory Body on Natural Heritage. It keeps track of listed sites and assesses sites that have been nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List, using the appropriate natural criteria for selection (vii) – (x):
- (vii) to contain outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, such as the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
- (viii) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
- (ix) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, such as the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic;
- (x) to constitute exceptional instances of ongoing ecological and biological processes in the growth and development of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems and plant and animal communities;
- (xi) to house the most significant natural habitats for in-situ biological diversity conservation, especially those containing threatened species of outstanding universal importance from a scientific or conservation standpoint.
The lifting of world heritage sites, which include both cultural and natural sites, is the responsibility of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention. The Ministry of Environment and Forests of India’s wildlife department is involved in the conservation of natural world heritage sites. We have also embarked on a wildlife conservation project with the help of external funding.
The project will last ten years and will be divided into two sections. The project will take place in India’s Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park, Nanda Devi National Park, and Keoladeo National Park, which are all world heritage sites.
Natural sites in India
Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (2014)
- Great Himalayan National Park is well renowned for its high alpine peaks, alpine meadows, and riverine forests, and is located in the western part of the Himalayan highlands in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
- It also encompasses the catchment area as well as the glacial and snow meltwater sources of multiple rivers.
- It is a biodiversity hotspot, with 25 different types of forests home to a diverse range of faunal species, some of which are threatened.
Kaziranga National Park (1985)
- In 1974 Kaziranga National park was declared as a national park
- It is located in the State of Assam and covers 42,996 ha. This park is the single largest undisturbed and representative area in the valley of the Brahmaputra floodplain.
- In 2007 it was declared a tiger reserve. The total tiger reserve area is 1,030 sq km with a core area of 430 sq. km.
- In 1985 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- BirdLife International recognises it as an Important Bird Area.
Keoladeo National Park (1985)
- This wetland, located in Rajasthan, was used as a duck hunting reserve until the end of the nineteenth century. The hunting, however, came to an end soon after, and the region was designated as a national park in 1982.
- Keoladeo National Park is home to 375 bird species as well as a variety of other animals. It also provides a wintering ground for migratory waterfowl from the Palaearctic, the critically endangered Siberian Crane, and the internationally vulnerable Greater Spotted Eagle and Imperial Eagle.
- It is well-known for its resident breeding population of non-migratory birds.
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985)
- Assam’s Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a biodiversity hotspot. It is located alongside the Manas River and is part of the Manas Tiger Reserve.
- The site’s spectacular beauty and tranquil environment are due to a variety of forested hills, alluvial grasslands, and tropical evergreen woods.
- It also supports a variety of endangered species, including the tiger, greater one-horned rhino, swamp deer, pygmy hog, and Bengal florican.
Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988, 2005)
- Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, both National Parks are high-altitude West Himalayan landscapes with extraordinary beauty, and they are located in the state of Uttarakhand.
- The rough and high-mountain environment of Nanda Devi National Park is dominated by India’s second-highest mountain, the peak of Nanda Devi. The Valley of Flowers, on the other hand, boasts aesthetically appealing alpine flower meadows.
- These parks are home to a diverse range of floral and faunal species, as well as a major population of globally vulnerable species like the Snow Leopard and Himalayan Musk Deer.
Sundarban National Park (1987)
- The Sundarbans contain the largest mangrove forests in the world and out of all-natural ecosystems it is one of the most biologically productive.
- It is located at the mouth of the Brahmaputra and the Ganges Rivers between India and Bangladesh. The Sundarbans forest and waterways support a wide range of fauna which includes several species that are threatened with extinction.
- The mangrove habitat supports the single largest population of tigers in the world which have adapted to an almost amphibious life that are capable of swimming for long distances and feeding on crab, fish, and water monitor lizards. These tigers are also renowned for being “man-eaters”, probably due to their relatively high frequency of encounters with the local people.
Western Ghats (2012)
- The Western Ghats are a mountain range that runs parallel to India’s western coast, going through Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
- They span for 1600 kilometres and are only interrupted once by a 30-kilometre Palghat gap at roughly 11 degrees North.
- They also have an impact on the Indian monsoon weather patterns, which help to moderate the region’s warm tropical climate and act as a barrier to rainy monsoon winds from the southwest.
- Tropical evergreen woods, as well as 325 globally endangered species, are found in the Western Ghats.
Mixed sites in India
Khangchendzonga National Park (2016)
- Mount Khangchendzonga, the world’s third tallest peak, dominates Khangchendzonga National Park in Sikkim.
- The Park is home to steep-sided valleys, snow-capped mountains, and numerous lakes and glaciers, including the Zemu glacier, which stretches for 26 kilometres around Mount Khangchendzonga’s base.
- It encompasses over a quarter of the state of Sikkim and provides a haven for a variety of indigenous and threatened plant and animal species.
5. Ramsar Convention
- The Ramsar Convention is a convention categorising wetlands that were signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971. The pact was negotiated in the 1960s by many countries and non-governmental organisations for the conservation of migratory waterbirds’ wetland habitats.
- The Ramsar Convention was established in 1975 to conserve and properly use all wetlands through local, national, and international collaboration as a contribution to global sustainable development.
- The Ramsar Convention has 171 contracting parties as of October 2020.
- The official name of the treaty is The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat.
- It is the only international treaty that specifically addresses a particular ecology (wetland.) Originally, the treaty was focused on the protection of waterbird habitats. With time, the treaty’s scope has expanded to include all areas of wetland conservation.
- Three major subjects are covered in the Ramsar Conventions:
- Under the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, the 171 contracting parties must designate appropriate wetlands in their territories.
- The wetlands that have been declared must be carefully managed and cared for.
- The parties involved must use shared wetland systems over the territory of more than one contracting party sensibly and after adequate consultation.
- There are 2406 wetlands on the list of wetlands of international importance as of October 2020.
- The Ramsar Convention is not a regulatory regime.
- The Ramsar Convention was modified by the Regina Amendments in 1987 and by the Paris Protocol in 1982.
- The Montreux Record is a mechanism related to the Ramsar Advisory Mission that was established in 1990. It is a list of those Ramsar Sites that require immediate attention.
- The first World Wetlands Day was held in 1997. Every year on February 2nd, it commemorates the Ramsar Convention’s 10th anniversary and promotes its objective.
- Every three years, the convention’s contracting parties convene for a Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP).
- The Ramsar Convention is supported by six international organisations partners, that are as follows:
- Birdlife International,
- Wetlands International,
- International Water Management Institute,
- Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust,
- A six-year strategic plan is included with the convention. The 4th Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan 2016-2024, which was approved during the convention’s COP12, is the most recent.
- The Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention comprises 18 members who are elected at each COP until the following COP elects new members.
- English, Spanish, and French are the three languages used by the Convention.
Purpose of the Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention is founded on three pillars that define its mission:
- Wise Use- Ensure that all wetlands are used wisely.
- List of Internationally Significant Wetlands- Designate appropriate wetlands for effective management under the Ramsar List.
- International Cooperation- To foster international cooperation on transboundary wetlands, shared species, and shared wetland systems.
What are wetlands
Wetlands are defined as “areas of marsh, fen, peatland, or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish, or salt, including areas of marine water whose depth at low tide does not exceed six metres,” according to the broad definition of Ramsar Convention.
Wetland examples include
- Coastal and marine environments
- Rivers and lakes
- Peatlands and marshes
- Rice paddies, shrimp ponds, and reservoirs are examples of human-made wetlands.
India and Ramsar Convention
- In India, there are 42 Ramsar Sites designated under the Ramsar Convention.
- India has added ten more wetlands to the Ramsar Convention’s list of protected wetlands.
These are the following:
- Uttar Pradesh: Nawabganj, Parvati Agra, Saman, Samaspur, Sandi, and Sarsai Nawar.
- Punjab: Keshopur-Miani, Beas Conservation Reserve, and Nangal.
- Maharashtra: Nandur (state’s first).
This expansion will aid India’s ambitious ‘Nal se Jal’ initiative, which aims to supply piped water to every household by 2024.
India and Wetland Conservation
The Ramsar Convention on Wetland Conservation came into force in India on February 1, 1981. The following are India’s national wetlands conservation initiatives (4.63 percent of the overall geographical area):
- Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017.
- In January 2020 a set of guidelines were released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change for implementation of the Wetland Rules 2017.
- India regulated the following wetlands:
- Wetlands are designated under the Ramsar List.
- Those wetlands are notified under central, state, and UT rules.
- The following wetlands are not covered under India’s Wetlands Rules:
- River channels.
- Paddy fields.
- Human-made water bodies are specifically designed for drinking water, aquaculture, salt production, recreation, and irrigation.
- Wetlands were protected by the Indian Forest Act of 1927, the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, and the State Forest Acts.
- Wetlands that are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
- Wetlands that are covered under the 2011 Coastal Regulation Zone Notification.
6. The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC)
The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC) is a leading non-governmental organisation that works on wildlife trade as part of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
It is a joint program of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
It was founded in 1976 and has grown into a global network dedicated to providing new and practical conservation solutions that are both research-driven and action-oriented.
The headquarters of TRAFFIC is located in Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Its goal is to ensure that trading in wild flora and animals does not threaten environmental protection.
The illegal wildlife trade is one of the primary causes of the extinction of many species. For example in 2011, rhino poaching to feed demand for illegal rhino horn hit an all-time high, with 448 rhinos poached in South Africa alone. This might unravel years of rhino conservation success in Africa.
Governance of TRAFFIC
- The TRAFFIC Committee is a steering group made up of members of TRAFFIC’s partner organisations, the WWF and the IUCN.
- In addition, TRAFFIC works closely with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
- Its team of experts comprises biologists, conservationists, academics, researchers, communicators, and investigators.
- It has aided in the evolution of international wildlife trading conventions since it has been established.
- It focuses on pooling resources, skills, and knowledge about the latest global wildlife trade issues, such as tiger parts, elephant ivory, and rhino horn.
- Large-scale commercial trading in commodities such as lumber and fisheries goods is also addressed and is related to efforts to create quick results and improve policy.
TRAFFIC and India
- Since 1991, TRAFFIC has been a Program Division of WWF-India, situated in New Delhi.
- Since then, it has collaborated closely with the national and state governments, as well as other organisations, to help study, monitor, and influence action to combat illegal wildlife trading.
- Capacity-building programs in India are helping to close the gap in effective wildlife law enforcement: TRAFFIC provides training and feedback to a varied array of officials working on wildlife enforcement and other relevant issues as part of this program.
- Conducting research and providing analysis on wildlife trade and its trends.
- TRAFFIC Study of leopard and tiger poaching and trade in India, peacock feather trade, owl trade, dynamics of the hunting community, trade in medicinal plants, bird trade, and more are among India’s ongoing initiatives.
- One of TRAFFIC India’s earliest consumer awareness campaigns, “Don’t Buy Trouble,” warns travellers to be cautious about what they buy as souvenirs when travelling. Since 2008, the program has had great success in airports, tiger reserves, national parks, wildlife resorts/hotels, travel agencies, schools, colleges, and other notable areas.
- The WANTED ALIVE series by TRAFFIC focuses on four Asian big cats: the Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, and Clouded Leopard, all of which are threatened by illegal traffic in their body parts.
- Promoting international collaborations in the fight against wildlife crime.
- TRAFFIC was instrumental in bringing South Asian countries together to form the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN).
- SAWEN was formally created in January 2011 at an inter-governmental summit hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan in Paro (a town in Bhutan). The major goal of this SAWEN project was for governments to work together to combat wildlife crime in the region.
7. United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)
International forest policy was one of the most controversial topics during the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (the Earth Summit). Since then, significant progress has been achieved in building a global policy framework for sustainable forest management. The Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) was the major platform for international forest policy development from 1995 to 1997, and the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) was the key forum for international forest policy development from 1997 to 2000. A key outcome from these organisations was the IPF/IFF Proposals for Action towards sustainable forest management. The UNFF was created to build on the processes and outcomes of the IPF and IFF.
United Nations Forum on forests mandate
The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) was established by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) in October 2000 as a subsidiary body with the main goal of promoting “the management, conservation, and sustainable development of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end…” The UNFF’s roles and functions evolved from the Rio Earth Summit.
The UNFF has universal membership and is made up of all United Nations Member States as well as specialised agencies.
United Nations Forest Instrument (UNFI)
The landmark Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests (NLBI) was accepted by the Forum’s Seventh Session on April 28, 2007, after intensive discussions. The instrument is regarded as a watershed moment. It was the first time that all of the UN’s Member States agreed on a global framework for sustainable forest management. The instrument is projected to have a significant impact on international collaboration as well as national action to reduce deforestation, forest degradation, promote sustainable livelihoods, and alleviate poverty among forest-dependent populations. The instrument was renamed the United Nations Forest Instrument at the 11th UNFF session in 2015. (UNFI). The UNFI has received support from several countries. The UNFI has been endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly. The UNFF website provides information about the organization’s operations.
8. International Whaling Commission (IWC)
- International Whaling Commission (IWC) is a non-governmental organisation established under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW).
- The International Whaling Commission regulates the commercial, scientific, and aboriginal subsistence whaling practices of fifty-nine member countries. In 1946, it was signed in Washington, D.C., United States.
- The headquarters of ICRW is situated in Impington, near Cambridge, England.
- It adopted a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. This prohibition is still in effect.
- The International Whaling Commission is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to whale conservation and whaling management.
- The International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling serves as the IWC’s legal basis. This Convention was one of the earliest pieces of international environmental legislation, having been formed in 1946. This Convention has been signed by all the IWC member countries. Currently, 88 governments from all over the world are members of the IWC.
- The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was established by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which was signed in Washington, DC on December 2, 1946.
- The goal of the Convention, according to the preamble, is to ensure the correct conservation of whale stocks. As a result, the whaling industry can develop in a more organised manner.
- It established the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, which surrounds the continent of Antarctica, in 1994. The IWC has outlawed all forms of commercial whaling in this area.
- So yet, the IWC has recognised only two such sanctuaries. Another is Seychelles’ Indian Ocean Whale Sanctuary, which is located on a small island nation in the Indian Ocean.
- Since its inception in 1946, the Commission’s responsibility has grown.
- Bycatch and entanglement, ocean noise, pollution, and debris, collisions between whales and ships, and sustainable whale watching are among the challenges that the IWC tries to address.
- Any country in the globe that formally ratifies the 1946 Convention is eligible to join the IWC.
- Each member country is represented by a Commissioner, who is aided by specialists and advisers.
- The Chair and Vice-Chair are elected from among the Commissioners themselves.
- They normally serve for four years, first as Vice-Chair for two years and then as Chair for the remaining two years.
Organisation and structure
- The Commission’s work is divided into six committees, each of which is made up of several sub-groups.
- Some of these sub-groups are long-term permanent committees, while others were formed to finish a single project.
- Commissioners, other members of national delegations, or subject matter experts from the IWC community chair the groups.
- The IWC has a full-time Secretariat with headquarters near Cambridge, United Kingdom.
- The IWC is devoted to financial management that is both sound and transparent.
- All IWC member governments’ annual financial contributions are calculated.
- The size of the donation varies by government and is influenced by three factors:
- The size of their delegation at the most recent biennial Commission meeting.
- Any whaling action they may have participated in;
- The capacity of the government to pay.
9. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was founded in the French town of Fontainebleau on October 5, 1948. It was the first worldwide environmental union, bringing governments and civil society organisations together with a common purpose of protecting the environment. Its goal was to promote worldwide cooperation while also providing scientific knowledge and tools to help conservationists make better decisions.
- IUCN has become the global authority on the status of the natural world and the steps required to safeguard it since its establishment in 1948. The knowledge and resources provided by the IUCN are essential for ensuring that human advancement, economic development, and environmental conservation all occur together.
- The IUCN’s principal objective throughout its first decade was to investigate the impact of human activities on nature. It raised awareness of pesticides’ negative impacts on biodiversity and encouraged the adoption of environmental impact assessments, which have subsequently become standard practice across all sectors and businesses.
- In the 1960s and 1970s, much of the IUCN’s work focused on the protection of species and the ecosystems that are crucial for their survival. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ was founded in 1964, and it has since evolved into the world’s most comprehensive data source on the global extinction risk of species.
- IUCN also played a fundamental role in the creation of key international conventions. These conventions include the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (1971), the World Heritage Convention (1972), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (1974), and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
- The World Conservation Strategy, published in 1980 by the IUCN in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), was a groundbreaking document that helped define the concept of “sustainable development” and shaped the global conservation and sustainable development agenda.
- In the run-up to the 1992 Earth Summit, the three organisations released a revised version of the strategy called Caring for the Earth. It guided the formation of the Rio Conventions on Biodiversity (CBD), Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Desertification (UNFCCC) and served as the foundation for worldwide environmental policy (UNCCD).
- The UN General Assembly gave IUCN formal observer status in 1999, as environmental issues continued to acquire relevance on the international scene.
- IUCN launched its corporate engagement approach in the early 2000s. Its goal is to ensure that any use of natural resources is fair and ecologically sustainable, with a focus on industries that have a substantial impact on nature and livelihoods, such as mining and oil and gas.
- IUCN pioneered ‘nature-based solutions’ later in the 2000s, which are efforts to conserve nature that simultaneously address global concerns like food and water security, climate change, and poverty reduction.
- IUCN is the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, with more than 1,300 Members – including States, government agencies, NGOs, and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations – and over 15,000 international specialists. It continues to promote nature-based solutions as critical to implementing international agreements like the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
10. Global Tiger Forum (GTF)
- The Global Tiger Forum (GTF) is an inter-governmental and international organisation founded by members from willing countries to launch a global campaign, common approach, and promotion of appropriate programs and controls to save the world’s remaining five subspecies of tigers, which are distributed across 14 tiger range countries.
- GTF, which was founded in 1994 and has its headquarters in New Delhi, is the sole intergovernmental and multinational organisation working to rescue the TIGER all over the world.
- The GTF General Assembly meets every three years.
- To support a global movement to rescue the tiger, its prey, and its habitat;
- To promote a legislative framework for biodiversity conservation in the nations concerned;
- To expand the tiger’s habitat protected area network and make inter-tiger migration easier in the range countries;
- To encourage communities living in and around protected areas to participate in eco-development programs;
- To encourage governments to sign necessary accords for tiger protection and the abolition of illegal trading;
- To encourage and carry out a scientific study to develop information helpful to tigers, their prey, and their environment, and to communicate that information in a user-friendly manner;
- To urge a range of countries to establish and implement their action plans for the protection and growth of the tiger population and its prey base by encouraging the development and exchange of relevant technology and training programs for scientific wildlife management. Habitat improvement and a joint preservation program can be undertaken bilaterally by range countries with adjacent habitats, but their execution should be done individually by each range country.
- Involve intergovernmental organisations in tiger conservation; establish a participatory fund of sufficient size to raise awareness in all areas where people eat tiger derivatives, reduce such consumption, and develop substitutes in the interests of conservation.
- The Global Tiger Forum (GTF) is conducting a situation analysis research to assess tiger habitat conditions in high altitude ecosystems in collaboration with the governments of Bhutan, India, and Nepal, as well as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
- The study was funded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Program (ITHCP) and KfW. (German Development Bank).
- The study identified possible viable habitats, corridor links, anthropogenic pressures, and induced landscape-level changes in its most recent report, which will be used to develop an in-situ conservation strategy.
- It also included an action plan for a high-altitude tiger master plan, as well as a profitable portfolio for local communities and a commitment to tiger conservation as a development priority.
- The study’s findings will be used by the Indian government to establish a high-altitude tiger master plan. Because they are a high-value ecosystem with numerous hydrological and ecological processes providing ecosystem services, tiger habitats at high altitudes will require protection through sustainable land use. They will also need adaptation techniques to counteract the negative consequences of climate change.
Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Program (ITHCP)
- The ITHCP, which was established in 2014, is a strategic funding instrument that aims to save wild tigers, their habitats, and human populations in important Asian locales.
- It has already aided 12 programs to better manage Tiger Conservation Landscapes in six countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, and Myanmar).
- It is helping to fund the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), which aims to increase the number of wild tigers by 2022.
- The GTF is the only intergovernmental international organisation with members from willing countries to launch a global campaign to protect the tiger.
- The GTF is the only intergovernmental international organisation with members from willing countries to launch a global campaign to protect the tiger.
- It was founded in 1993 as a result of proposals made at an international conference on tiger conservation held in New Delhi, India.
11. Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT)
- The Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT) was established by the US Department of State in 2005 as a “voluntary public-private [international] coalition of like-minded governments and organisations that share the goal of eradicating the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.” The CAWT’s three objectives are to lower consumer demand, limit supply through increased enforcement, and mobilize high-level political support.
- The founding members of the CAWT, according to a 2005 State Department press release were Conservation International, Save the Tiger Fund, Smithsonian Institution, Traffic International, WildAid, Wildlife Conservation Society, and American Forest and Paper Association.
- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) received nearly $3 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and $1 million from the U.S. State Department under the umbrella of the CAWT. This money was used to support capacity-building activities in nations where wildlife goods are in high demand.
- In 2008, the CAWT released its public awareness videos, which included Harrison Ford, an actor and wildlife conservationist. Consumers are encouraged not to buy anything made using illegally traded wildlife or wildlife products after watching the movies. You may see the PSAs here.
- Since its inception, the Coalition has raised awareness of the issue of wildlife trafficking online and the role of the private sector in combating it at key global fora such as the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade (2018), the INTERPOL/IFAW Cyber-Enabled Wildlife Crime Workshop (2018), the CITES Conference of the Parties 18 (2019), the INTERPOL Wildlife Crime Working Group (2019), and the First High-Level Convention on Wildlife Trafficking (2019). These gatherings aimed to encourage multi-sector collaboration between NGOs, policymakers, and law enforcement while also accelerating major policy changes.
- Technology and communication advancements, together with expanding power and demand for illegal wildlife items, have made it easier to transfer illegal wildlife products from poachers to customers across continents. As a result, criminals can sell unlawfully stolen wildlife and its products on mainly uncontrolled online markets. Live tiger cubs, reptiles, primates, and birds for the exotic pet trade, as well as products produced from elephants, pangolins, and sea turtles, are readily available for purchase online. In collaboration with WWF, TRAFFIC, and IFAW, the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online brings together e-commerce, search, and social media organisations from around the world to help keep wildlife safe online and in the wild.
- The Coalition works with businesses to improve prohibited wildlife regulations, train employees to detect prohibited wildlife content, educate users about the issue and how to report suspicious listings, improve automated detection, and more. The Coalition collaborates with businesses to improve forbidden wildlife regulations, train employees to detect prohibited wildlife content, educate users about the issue and how to report suspicious listings, improve automated detection, and share learning across platforms.
- The Coalition companies reported removing or disabling over 3 million endangered species listings from their platforms in their most recent progress report (dated March 2020). Strengthened wildlife policies, increased staff ability to detect illegal wildlife products, regular monitoring and data sharing from wildlife experts, reports sent in by volunteers through a Cyber Spotter program, enhanced algorithms as a result of key search word monitoring, and collation and shared learning all contributed to this.
Almost all wildlife authorities in different countries are currently dealing with illegal poaching and animal killing by smugglers for animal skins, tusks, and horns. What these people don’t comprehend is that while they may be making large sums of money from these activities today, in 10 or 20 years there will be no animals remaining to provide them with income. There would be no forests if there were no animals, and no forests would imply soil erosion, warm temperatures, the drying up of lakes and rivers, no rains, and hence no crops and plants.
This is a cascading consequence that every human being should be aware of right now. And saving wildlife isn’t a one-man effort. It is a team effort that requires everyone’s participation. The wildlife authorities should develop severe strategies to reduce human intrusion in the core forest areas, as well as appropriate wildlife tourist policies, to successfully manage unlawful operations.
Further, as individuals, we should begin by taking tiny steps from our homes, such as reducing the use of electronic equipment such as air conditioners, which contribute to global warming, and pooling vehicles when travelling to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.
Additionally, as people, we should begin taking tiny actions from our homes, such as reducing the use of electrical equipment such as air conditioners, which contribute to global warming, pooling vehicles when commuting to reduce pollution, and harm to the ozone layer, and conserving water.
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