Between the years, 2001 and 2010, hunters hoping to sell trophy skins to collecters, killed an estimated 6,000 polar bears in Russia. That might not seem like a large number, but it represents a significant percentage of the remaining polar bears – 20,000.
During that time, the Arctic icecap, which provides food and a natural habitat for the animals, has begun to disappear at an alarming rate.
The US Geological Survey warned in 2007 that diminishing sea ice could result in the loss of two-thirds of the world's polar bear population within 50 years.
A clause in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species law, which allows for the legal killing of polar bears, has long been a problem for organizations trying to save polar bears. Now animal rights activists from the U.S. and Russia are uniting to lobby their respective governments to have the polar bear’s status upgraded to appendix two, which would make it illegal to kill them for their skins.
From the Guardian U.K.:
"The real opportunity to ban the trade is around the corner," said Jeffrey Flocken, head of IFAW's Washington DC office. Activists have been lobbying officials in the US to table the so-called "uplist" proposal by 4 October, ahead of a global Cites conference early next year, but fear US reluctance after a similar proposal did not pass a vote at the convention's last meeting in Doha in 2010.Recently, two polar bear skins sold for $13,146 each at an auction held in Canada. In Russia – with Russia and China representing the largest markets for polar bear skins – the trophy animals have sold for as much as $40, 934.
IFAW activists have also received written assurances from the Russian ministry of natural resources that it will support an initiative tabled by the US, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Guardian. Activists hope that joint Russian-US support will help the motion receive the two-thirds vote it needs to pass inside the 176-country body.
In 2009, poachers shot and killed the last surviving Java Rhino. That species was recently declared extinct. Trophy hunters who sell Rhino horns to Chinese merchants have been a major threat to the survival of many species.
If you would like to join the effort to save the polar bear, please help by making this message go viral, and please visit the following websites:
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
Human Society International (HSI)