Wildlife campaigners are at odds over a new attempt to ban the global trade in polar bear parts. Some activists say the market for rugs and ornaments made from the bears is driving them to extinction.
But others argue that the most pressing problem for the species is climate change and the disappearance of polar ice. The issue will be decided at a UN wildlife conservation meeting in Thailand in March 2013.
The Humane Society International/UK says that polar bears have been brought to a tipping point by climate change but that increased hunting in recent years is pushing the species "beyond the brink".
"The drivers for the increase in recent years in the trade in polar bear parts are the extremely worrying and rapidly increasing prices being paid on international markets for polar bear parts," said Mark Jones, executive director of the Humane Society International/UK.
He points to the fact that in the five years up to 2012 there has been a 375% increase in the number of polar bear skins offered at auction, some selling for as much as $12,000 (£7,400).