Elephants in particular need the most protection worldwide. Government representatives, traders and environmentalists from 168 countries are discussing endangered species – which also have implications for humans – at the U.N. Conference on Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Interviewer: How stand the signs of the time world-wide with the topic protection of species?
Dr. Ralf Sonntag (head of the German office of the International Fund for Animal Welfare): It’s five to twelve, that’s very clear. On the conference will be discussed again very controversially. There are actually countries that want to soften the protection of elephants again. This will be a big topic at the conference.
We from the International Fund for Animal Welfare demand that the trade has to be stopped completely – also nationally. There also the EU must still do some homework. The conference will also be about the need to put numerous species of sharks and rays under better protection. There will be a lot of discussion about turtles, reptiles to spiders and butterflies.
Interviewer: What can be held against such states, which demand a softening of these rules??
Sunday: If these species disappear, these countries are much poorer off. We therefore need to preserve species to preserve the environment and ecosystems – above all to ensure survival for humans. This is very important. That is why we are clearly also committed to more species protection.
Interviewer: You yourself are on the spot at the conference in Geneva. What signals or even successes do you hope to achieve at the meeting??
Sunday: We actually hope that the proposed species will be protected here. That means they can no longer be traded, which will significantly lower the incentive to poach them.
The biodiversity conference here in Geneva is one of the few major international conferences that actually has teeth and usually gets its way. That’s why we really hope for successful votes on the motions.
Interviewer: How binding are such decisions that may end up being made?
Sunday: These decisions are legally binding for all members of the CITES conference (Note. d. Red.CITES – Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). That’s almost all states. There are only two or three states that are not members.
Interviewer: To what extent would the protection of these species increase biodiversity??
Sunday: Well, it certainly won’t increase them. It will, however, slow down the loss of biodiversity. That is already very important. At the moment, things are moving forward at seven-league pace, and we have to stop that. This is why we need to reduce trade for endangered animals and species.
Interviewer: Does the trade with such animals also play a role here in Germany?
Sunday: Sure, because also through Germany ivory is smuggled or other things like shark fins. There is also this on the market. These markets simply have to be regulated. So far, many of these markets are absolutely open. We have to regulate them and where it is necessary, just close them down.
Interviewer: Are endangered species also about species native to Germany? Are there animals, which are threatened in their existence with us in Germany?
Sunday: Of course, there are also animals in our country, for example, many reptiles or amphibians are endangered. But also large animals – we used to have bears and wolves. The wolves are coming back now, but there are also some threatened. And species are also threatened within the EU. But also the worldwide threatened species are important for us as Germans and as Europeans.
The interview was conducted by Moritz Dege.