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Swiss government at odds with environmentalists over endangered animals

Government officials and environmentalists representing Switzerland at the Conference on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites) starting today in Nairobi are at odds over policy on how best to protect the world's elephant and whales.

Government officials and environmentalists representing Switzerland at the Conference on International Trade of Endangered Species (Cites) starting today in Nairobi are at odds over policy on how best to protect the world's elephant and whale populations.

The Swiss government is prepared to let Norway and Japan downgrade the level of protection enjoyed by its whale populations, but only in return for a "zero trade" agreement, meaning both countries would stop trading in whale meat altogether.

However, the Swiss branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature disagrees with this policy. They argue that many countries with a poor track record in protecting their whale populations would take advantage of the loophole given to Japan and Norway and would be able to do more whale hunting.

The government is also keen to put forward its views on the trade in ivory - another controversial topic which is being discussed at the summit attended by 150 nations. The government is prepared to allow South Africa to trade with ivory from elephants killed in the Kruger National Park, on an experimental basis.

But the Swiss branch of the WWF has reservations because countries with much smaller elephant stocks could start trading legally, too, following the example of South Africa.

The Cites summit will end on April 20, by which time the delegates will have worked their way through 100 different conservation topics and 30 resolutions.

by Greg Morsbach


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