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World Heritage sites threatened by crime

World Heritage sites threatened by crime
April 18, 2017

Coinciding with the United Nations' World Heritage Day, conservation charity WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has released a report that advises that poaching, illegal logging and fishing are threatening endangered species in some of the world's most iconic natural sites.

WWF says almost half of the world's 200 designated natural heritage sites are "plagued" by wildlife criminals, including the last refuges for critically endangered javan rhinos and wild tigers.

From the Great Barrier Reef to the Galapagos Islands and at many other locations across the globe, UNESCO has designated around 200 natural World Heritage sites as being of outstanding international importance and deserving of the highest levels of protections.

Today, 18th April, marks the annual International Day, World Heritage Day, when these sites, along with historic momuments, are celebrated.

The theme of this year's event is 'Cultural Heritage & Sustainable Tourism', chosen to link with the United Nations International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

However, the WWF report looking at the threats to species that are already protected under the Convention on the International Trades in Endangered Species (CITES), found that these threatened animals and plants are poached or illegally harvested in 45% of natural World Heritage sites.

Many of the parks in the study are home to critically endangered creatures - including Ujung National Park in Indonesia, which is the last stand for around 60 javan rhinos.

Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is one of Africa’s largest wildernesses. But in 2014, it was put on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites in danger, mainly due to increased poaching.

Commenting on the report, Dr Colman O'Criodain from WWF stated "you have got the world's most cherished species on the one hand, and on the other the world's most cherished sites, they are inextricably linked.

"Of course there's the economic value of these sites, but these are special places, they give you a lump in your throat when you see them and if we really want to cherish these we all have to step up."

Between 1970 and 2012 global wildlife populations declined by almost 60% on average.

According to the report, declines not just due to unsustainable practices in fishing and logging, but criminality.

The illegal trade in species is said to be worth around US$19 billion a year, with the unlicensed timber trade said to be responsible for up to 90% of deforestation in major tropical countries.

Unfortunately, designating an important site as part of world heritage, isn't enough by itself to stall the criminals.

The report points out that the illegal trade in species at natural heritage sites is having a significant impact on people's livelihoods as the disappearance of rare animals and plants can deter tourists.

There is also a more direct and deadly human cost in terms of lives lost, with at least 595 park rangers killed protecting key sites between 2009 and 2016.

Images: Javan rhinos in the Ujung National Park (top), rangers of the Javan Rhino Conservation program (middle) and a saltwater crocodile in Kakadu National Park (below).

18th April 2017 - WORLD HERITAGE DAY CELEBRATES GLOBAL CULTURAL HERITAGE 

2nd April 2017 - REPORT HIGHLIGHTS VALUE OF INDIGENOUS RANGER PROGRAMS

3rd March 2016 - UNITED NATIONS MARKS WORLD WILDLIFE DAY WITH A GLOBAL CALL TO SAVE ENDANGERED SPECIES

2nd July 2015 - UNITED NATIONS CALLS FOR BAN ON LOGGING AND MINING IN TASMANIA’S WORLD HERITAGE AREA

22nd April 2015 - WORLD’S PROTECTED NATURAL AREAS RECEIVE EIGHT BILLION VISITS A YEAR

25th March 2015 - INTERNATIONAL ZOO ASSOCIATION ACCUSED OF OVERLOOKING HORRIFIC ANIMAL CRUELTY

20th November 2014  - IUCN SUMMIT DELIVERS MAJOR COMMITMENTS TO SAVE EARTH’S MOST PRECIOUS NATURAL AREAS

19th November 2014  - CRIMINAL WILDLIFE POACHING DRIVING ENDANGERED SPECIES TO BRINK OF EXTINCTION

30th July 2014 - ACT CELEBRATES WORLD RANGER DAY

6th August 2012 - INDIA’S TOP COURT CLAMPS DOWN ON TIGER TOURISM 

20th November 2014 - IUCN SUMMIT DELIVERS MAJOR COMMITMENTS TO SAVE EARTH’S MOST PRECIOUS NATURAL AREAS


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We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

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