UN lifts Nigeria wildlife trade suspension

26th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN wildlife trade regulator said Friday it was lifting its 2005 suspension on wildlife commerce with Nigeria, citing the country's improved efforts to combat illegal trade.

"Nigeria has significantly reduced illegal trade," Juan Vasquez, a spokesman with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, told AFP.

He said that the regulator had called on states to suspend such dealings with Nigeria as it was the "hub" of much illegal wildlife trade in West Africa, notably in ivory but also in reptile skins.

"What has changed is political will, and the authorities have shown a positive engagement to stamp out illegal wildlife trade," Vasquez said.

The agency visited areas for black-market ivory commerce in 2010, but "ivory could no longer be found there", said the spokesman.

While he acknowledged that illegal trade has not disappeared completely, "there are now laws in place and being implemented which ensure that this trade is controlled".

"We will continue to monitor the situation, but we recognize the positive efforts of Nigeria," Vasquez said.

According to the CITES website, some 19 other countries, including Belize, India and Tanzania, among the 175 signatories of the convention are still subject to trade restrictions.

Vasquez added that trade restrictions exist for over 34,000 plant and animal species, some 900 of which are endangered.

© 2011 AFP

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