United Nations, United States, Jul 31 – The United Nations called on its member states Thursday to work harder in combatting poaching of endangered species such as elephants and rhinoceroses.
The General Assembly resolution was the first of its kind but not legally binding. Still, it reflects worldwide opposition to illegal hunting.
The assembly expressed concern over what it called a steady rise in the level of rhino poaching and alarmingly high levels of killings of elephants in Africa.
It said such killings “threaten those species with local extinction and, in some cases, with global extinction.”
There are now an estimated 470,000 African elephants living in the wild, compared to 550,000 in 2006, said the NGO Elephants Without Borders.
And since 2007, famed Kruger National Park in South Africa has lost hundreds of rhinoceroses to poachers eager to sell their severed and powdered horns in Asia, where they are sought for their alleged aphrodisiac effect.
Mozambique has lost half of its elephants in five years, and it is believed rhinoceroses became extinct in 2013.
The vote also coincided with global outrage over the killing of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe that was allegedly lured from a national reserve outside regular hours and killed by an American hunter.
– An unprecedented resolution –
This was the first time the United Nations dedicated a resolution specifically to the fight against poaching.
Previous resolutions from the Security Council simply made references to how rebel groups poached animals to finance wars.
Gabon and Germany sponsored the resolution, which was also supported by more than 70 countries. It also called on consumer nations to take measures to combat sales of products from poached animals.
China accounts for 70 percent of world demand for ivory, NGOs say. They say China’s zeal for ivory is responsible for the death of 30,000 African elephants each year.