Will Clinton earn stripes on tiger boycott?

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1994:

GENEVA, Switzerland– The
Standing Committee of the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species
met March 21-25 to decide whether to call a
global boycott of exports from Taiwan and
China to protest their role in wildlife poach-
ing and smuggling. Chinese and Taiwanese
demand for aphrodisiacs and other traditional
wildlife-based medicines is the source of
much and perhaps most of the money in the
illegal wildlife traffic.

Turning up the pressure, eight east-
ern and southern African nations agreed on
March 16 to form interlinked national
wildlife law enforcement bureaus––after los-
ing 97% of their combined rhinoceros popu-
lation and 90% of their elephants to poachers
over the past 35 years, hired primarily by
Asian cartels. Native primates, birds, and
reptiles are also jeopardized. The eight
nations include Botswana, Kenya,
Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland,
Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The
announcement came one week after the
return to office of Kenyan wildlife law
enforcement chief Richard Leakey (see page
12). Follow-up meetings were set for May.
As the Asian regional chapter of
CITES held a preliminary meeting March 18
at Richon Lezion, Israel, representatives of
two dozen nations torched a pile of 700 con-
traband wildlife items on the nearby coastal
dunes. The blaze was sponsored by Friends
of Animals. At a simultaneous press confer-
ence, the World Wildlife Fund said the
Asian rhino horn market had caused a 50%
decline in the Sumatran rhino population.
The International Union for Conservation
said no more than 500 Sumatran rhinos and
just 100 Javan rhinos remain in the wild. The
Wildlife Conservation Society meanwhile
announced a three-year census of the Asian
rhinos, to begin in May.
Earlier, nine of the 14 nations
where tigers survive formed a Global Tiger
Forum, at instigation of Indian environment
minister Kamal Nath––but commitments to
active participation were ambiguous, and
China, the biggest customer for smuggled
tiger bone, didn’t participate at all. The
Indian tiger poplation, the largest remaining,
was recently discovered to be no higher than
2,700, well below previous estimates of up
to 4,300. Wild tigers are close to extinction
almost everywhere else.
If a trade boycott is called on behalf
of wildlife, the U.S. will have to be the main
enforcer. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is
reportedly urging President Bill Clinton to
back such a boycott, but Clinton, after refus-
ing to boycott Chinese trade over human
rights issues, is said to be more concerned
with keeping export markets open.
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