Turtles, glass frogs on agenda
Meeting in Panama looks at CITES protection levels
Published: Nov 22, 2022 08:13 PM
Glass frog File photo: VCG

Glass frog File photo: VCG

A global wildlife summit in Panama will decide whether to take measures to protect the translucent glass frog and 12 types of freshwater turtles in its final week, which kicked off Monday.

Conservation experts and delegates from more than 180 nations began the week with a decision to maintain a ban on the trade of white rhinoceros horn.

Delegates authorized the export of Brazil's broad-snouted caiman and the saltwater crocodile from the Philippines for animals raised in captivity, but a ban on cross-border trade in Siamese crocodiles raised by Thai farmers was left intact.

The meeting in Panama City began on November 14 to discuss 52 proposals to modify protection levels set by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The fate of several unique amphibians will be up for debate before the meeting wraps up on Friday.

"Freshwater turtles are among the main groups that are trafficked in the countries, and there is high pressure for international trade," said Yovana Murillo, who heads a program against wildlife trafficking in the Andes, Amazon and Orinoco region for the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Peru want to list two species of matamata turtles, which live in the Amazon and Orinoco basins, on CITES Appendix II, which requires the tracking and regulation of trade.

Doris Rodriguez of Peru's forestry service told AFP that the striking matamata turtles, with their beetle-like appearance, have become sought-after pets and "face many threats."
These include habitat destruction, pollution, illegal trade, and being hunted for their meat and eggs.

Delegates will also debate regulating the trade of the nocturnal glass frog, found in several rainforests in Central and South America.

The amphibian is an increasingly popular pet. Some are a lime green color, while others have translucent bellies and chests. 

"They are being collected for their beauty. They are being trafficked and some are in critical danger," said Rodriguez.

CITES, in force since 1975, regulates trade in some 36,000 species of plants and animals and provides mechanisms to help crack down on illegal trade. It sanctions countries that break the rules.

On the eve of the summit, CITES issued an ultimatum to Mexico, to show progress in protecting the world's most endangered marine animal by February 2023, or face sanctions against its fish exports. 

Good news also emerged from the summit: The Aleutian cackling goose was moved from the list of most threatened species to those no longer threatened with extinction, after its numbers increased.