Warner Pacific College
August 11, 2014
Environmental Regulation and Conservation of Wildlife
Enacting environmental policy through environmental regulation is an imperative exploit to protect biodiversity, implement conservation and preservation and uphold ethical obligations. “The need to regulate international trade in wildlife has been seen as an important component of biodiversity policy and practice for over 25 years, with regulations operating at various levels” (Oldfield, 2003, p. xvii). In this paper, I will discuss my views on the role of environmental regulation in the conservation of wildlife.
“Biodiversity at all levels is being lost to human impact, most irretrievably in the extinction of species” (Withgott & Laposata, 2014, p. 281). As human population grows and by our increasing individual consumption of resources, the extirpation (Withgott & Laposata, 2014) of wildlife species continues at accelerated rates. Through habitat loss, overharvesting and climate change (Withgott & Laposata, 2014) species populations are declining rapidly. Regulation of human impact is crucial for biodiversity to flourish. To combat these negative factors governments have “passed laws, signed treaties, and strengthened anti-poaching efforts” (p. 285).
Laws, treaties and acts have been implemented to help aid in conserving and protecting of wildlife. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is the most well-known and has the most members among the conservation agreements. CITES is an international agreement adhered to by countries voluntarily. CITES was formed because the trade in wildlife crosses borders between countries and in efforts to regulate it, requires international cooperation (CITES, 2014). “Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival” (CITES, 2014). The implementation of such efforts has “helped African nations gain economic benefits from ecotourism with their wildlife preserves” (Withgott & Laposata, 2014, p. 297).
As the government tackles the issue through the laws and system, the corrupt and illicit trade of animals is underway and thriving. Poaching is a highly political and detrimental crime focused on the population of African Elephants. The ivory tusks of an elephant have become a high commodity in the black market and the illegal distribution and selling are central contributors to transnational organized crime. Such crime drives and is facilitated by the pervasive erosion of governance structures through corruption and the breakdown in the rule of law (WWF, 2014). Regulations can be disadvantageous in this situation because the rules and laws exacerbate the value of the ivory and create an illicit profitable commodity for the criminally motivated.
Added to the regulatory obligations, humans have an ethical obligation to protect and conserve our wildlife. As the most dominant and powerful species on the planet, humans have an obligation to view our wildlife as a distinct and important aspect of resource and value. As worldviews change, so must our view of conservation and value of our wildlife to reflect the notion that other species have rights and are biologically important to our planet and our existence. As the need for regulatory action persists and widens, the ethical views of society will focus on ecofriendly measures and shape conservation policies. ”The management and use of wild animals generates ethical disagreements and dilemmas in which human needs, preferences, and interests, concern for individual animal welfare, and the value of biodiversity, ecosystems, and wild nature are part of the discussion. The way in which these different values are prioritized will determine policy” (Gamborg et al., 2012).
Environmental regulation is crucial to conserving and protecting the world’s wildlife. But more critical is the upholding of these regulations by humans. Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, conservationist and owner of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust explains it best:
Saving wildlife and wilderness is the responsibility of all thinking people. Greed and personal gain must not be permitted to decimate, despoil and destroy the earth’s irreplaceable treasure for its existence is essential to the human spirit and the well-being of the earth as a whole. All life has just one home — the earth — and we as the dominant species must take care of it.
–Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, Kenyan author and conservationist
CITES [website] (2014). What is CITES?. Retrieved from: http://www.cites.org/eng/disc/what.php. August 6, 2014
Gamborg, C., Palmer, C. & Sandoe, P. (2012) Ethics of Wildlife Management and Conservation: What Should We Try to Protect? Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):8 Retrieved from: http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/ethics-of-wildlife-management-and- conservation-what-80060473. August 6, 2014
Oldfield, S. (Ed.). (2003). The trade in wildlife: Regulation for conservation. Sterling, Virginia: Earthscan. ISBN: 1 85383 954 X
Withgott, J., & Laposata, M. (2014). Environment: the science behind the stories (5th Ed.). New York, NY. Pearson Benjamin Cummings.
WWF [website]. African elephants. Retrieved from: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/endangered_species/elephants/african_elephants/ August 6, 2014