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Sat Dec 03 08:47:47 SAST 2016

South Africa to host 2016 CITES talks

AFP | 2015-06-22 20:52:03.0
South Africa has been hit with a sharp rise in rhino poaching in recent years, with numbers at record levels this year despite renewed government efforts, such as the use of helicopters and anti-poaching dogs. File photo
Image by: PHILIMON BULAWAYO / REUTERS

South Africa, badly hit by rhino poaching, will host the 2016 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the global regulator announced Monday.

The talks will take place between September 24 and October 5, 2016 in the economic hub of Johannesburg.

"It is a highly appropriate location... given the frontline wildlife challenges an opportunities being tackled on the African continent," said CITES secretary-general John Scanlon in a statement.

African elephants and rhinos are being poached at alarming rates for their tusks and horns to feed an insatiable market in South East Asia.

South Africa has been hit with a sharp rise in rhino poaching in recent years, with numbers at record levels this year despite renewed government efforts, such as the use of helicopters and anti-poaching dogs.

A total of 393 rhinos were lost to poachers in the first four months of 2015 alone, an 18-percent increase on the same period a year earlier, the government said last month.

And in March, experts at the Africa Elephant Summit held in Botswana warned that African elephants could be extinct in the wild "within our lifetime".

CITES is a global treaty between 181 member states to ensure that trade of wild animals and plants does not threaten the species' survival.

The CITES talks take place every two to three years in a member country, and it is the fourth time such a meeting will take place in Africa.

Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya have all hosted the talks in the past.

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