Wednesday, 16 May 2007 08:35
The tiger is the species most endangered by illegal international trade, a new report has said.
Ahead of next month's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, WWF has released its biennial list of the world's ten most in-demand species being bought, sold, smuggled, killed or captured for trade purposes.
The conservation society says tigers are most under threat in China, claiming that 'farms' used to harvest the big cat for use in traditional medicine still exist.
Heather Sohl, wildlife trade officer at WWF, today said: "The tiger already faces a number of threats and China lifting their ban in the trade of tiger products could sound the death knell for the species."
Also featuring prominently on WWF's list is the shark-like sawfish, a large ray that is used in shark fin soup, the porbeagle shark, which is found in UK waters and fished for its meat and fins, and the spiny dogfish, highly valued in Germany as a smoked meat delicacy.
"Some of the marine species in the top ten list – such as the porbeagle and spiny dogfish sharks and the sawfish – are seeing dramatic population declines which need to be addressed before it is too late," explained Ms Sohl.
Other species cited by WWF as most endangered by international trade include red and pink coral, Asian rhinos, the European eel, African and Asian elephants, the figleaf mahogany found in central and South America, Asian elephants and great apes – including gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans.
On next month's Cites conference Ms Sohl added that the event could provide a "vital opportunity to protect some of the world's most endangered species so that they are not traded to the point of extinction".