Failed CITES Proposal Highlights Need for New Approach

This week at the CITES Conference of Parties, several proposals, including those to list Atlantic bluefin tuna & polar bears in Appendix I and red & pink coral in Appendix II, were rejected.  Opponents of the proposals intimated the reason behind their lack of support was their concern that increased regulations would negatively impact poor communities.  Whether or not that was the true motivation behind their votes, these statements emphasize the need to find ways to sustain species while also sustaining the communities that depend on them.

A relatively new eco-label, called Wildlife Friendly, does just that.  It certifies “wildlife-friendly” products that conserve threatened wildlife while at the same time contributing to the economic vitality of rural communities.  Take the example of certified “Elephant Pepper.” To stop elephants from raiding their crops, farmers in Kenya plant pepper plants as natural fences around their fields. In addition to keeping elephants out (did you know elephants dislike and thus avoid pepper?), the plants provide a new cash crop for farmers that is then certified and sold for use in salsa and other products.

Another example is Ibis Rice.  Sustainable rice growing in the habitat of the endangered Great Ibis in Cambodia both earns local farmers substantial income while avoiding conversion of the land habitat and ensuring it’s maintained in its natural state.   Perhaps zoos and other wildlife-oriented institutions can help promote these types of products as well as foster public awareness about them and create markets by exploring options to use certified products in their own restaurants?

You can hear more examples of win-win-win situations that support a “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profits, as well as what goes into wildlife friendly certification, on this week’s The WildLife broadcast & podcast with Julie Stein of the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN) which will air on Monday, March 22, 2010 from 1-2 pm on WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont.  (Live stream on  Podcast available on iTunes and

More information:   The WildLife Radio & Podcast: Certified Wildlife Friendly: Predator Friendly:

Dr. Laurel Neme (

Laurel will be a featured lecturer at the St. Louis Zoo this Spring. Check page for dates.

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