Posted: Mar 3, 2013 2:23 AM
Updated: Mar 3, 2013 2:24 AM
BANGKOK (AP) The head of the United Nations environment agency is calling on the international community to clamp down hard on the world's illegal wildlife trade, calling it a lucrative criminal business that is threatening to wipe out some of the planet's most iconic species.
Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, made the call Sunday during the opening meeting of the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, in Bangkok.
Steiner says the recent, massive upsurge in poaching of endangered African elephants and rhinos should be "a wake-up call for all of us."
Steiner says the illicit trade in protected wildlife species is a billion-dollar business that is comparable to that of illegal narcotics and arms.