The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on 18 April 2017 published a report, which revealed that poaching, illegal logging and fishing in nearly 30% of World Heritage sites are driving endangered species to the brink of extinction. The report urges for additional and immediate measures to halt the worrying trend in illegal trafficking for international trade of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)-listed species in the world’s most ecologically important places.
The report finds that illegal poaching, logging and fishing occur in nearly 30 per cent of natural and mixed World Heritage sites, are driving endangered species to the brink of extinction and putting the livelihoods and wellbeing of communities who depend on them at risk. Many Natural World Heritage sites are threatened by destructive industrial activities. Their unique animals and plants are also affected by overexploitation and trafficking. Illegal harvesting of species in World Heritage sites degrades vital social and economic benefits. Illegal harvesting also modifies the natural ecosystem.
Species mainly targeted in the World Heritage sites includes rhino, eastern swamp deer, snow leopard, white-lipped peccary, jaguar and elephants among others. Around 5% of the Sumatran tiger population was killed in 2016 alone and if current levels of poaching and trade continue, tigers could disappear from the wild on Sumatra. The report highlights that improved protection and monitoring at the World Heritage site level must be accompanied by greater action to curb demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife products through education, enforcement and prosecution.
The WWF for Nature is an international non-governmental organization. It was founded in 1961. It was formerly named the WWF, which remains its official name in Canada and the United States. The organisation works in the field of the wilderness preservation, and the reduction of humanity’s footprint on the environment. The organisation’s mission is “to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.”