(DOHA)—In an unusual vote for conservation, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) unanimously approved the listing of a rare and bizarre insect, the satanic beetle (Dynastes satanas) on its Appendix II.
Prized by collectors, the satanic beetle has been a target for trappers in its tiny natural range in central Bolivia. Bolivia, which introduced the proposal, hopes that the listing will benefit local people as well as helping to preserve the species.
Dr. Ronald Orenstein, a long-time veteran of CITES proceedings, welcomed the decision on behalf of Humane Society International, a member of the Species Survival Network. “Beetles are the largest group of animals on earth, but this is the first time that CITES Parties have voted a beetle onto the Appendices. Many beetles, like this one, fetch high prices on the international market, and it is time that CITES took a closer look at this trade.”
Notes of the editor:
- Distribution: Very limited; endemic to rainforests from 900 to 2000 m elevation in the Regions of La Paz and Cochabamba, Bolivia.
- Population: Proposal states that the species’ habitat is very reduced and fragmented and that, according to local settlers, populations are also very reduced.
- Threats: Illegal international trade; habitat loss due to agriculture expansion.
- Trade: Not legally traded in Bolivia; significant illegal trade in both live and dead specimens for private collectors: 634 specimens seized in 2007 alone; though no exports authorized from Bolivia, specimens are advertised for sale on the Internet for up to USD220 from suppliers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan and Russia.