DEA implements CITES CoP17 decisions
LATE last year, South Africa hosted 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at the Sandton Convention Centre, where CITES Parties and observers engaged in robust discussions and came up with resolutions to take forward the work underway around the trade in flora and fauna.
The Department of Environmental Affairs is already implementing decisions taken at the conference. These include:
Provisions to strengthen actions to combat illicit wildlife trafficking, improve protection of entire groups of species, empowering youth and closer engagement with rural communities;
Provisions to manage the international trade in hunting trophies and the trade in cycads;
The CITES listing of wild ginger and Temminck’s pangolin;
The transfer of the Cape Mountain Zebra from Appendix I to Appendix II by CITES, which recognises a remarkable conservation success story – where a species has recovered from just less than 100 individual animals in the 1990s to over 5 000 in 2016; and
The decision not to list South Africa’s elephant population in Appendix I, which would have introduced a ban on the international commercial trade in wild elephant.
This is a victory for scientific, evidence-based decision-making.
The Parties and observers discussed the document on the rhinoceros, which reported on a wide range of activities that have been undertaken by Parties, the Secretariat and the Standing Committee’s Working Group on Rhinoceroses in the period from CoP16 to CoP17, in support of the implementation of the Decisions adopted by CoP16 and the recommendations adopted by the CITES Standing Committee its meetings in 2014 and in 2016.
All Parties will review their implementation of the Resolution on the Conservation of and trade in African and Asian rhinoceroses, and the strategies and proposed actions developed by the CITES Rhinoceros Enforcement Task Force.
The aim of the review is to enhance implementation of the Resolution and the strategies and proposed actions, and to increase the effectiveness of the law-enforcement responses to rhinoceros poaching and rhinoceros horn trafficking.
All rhinoceros range states should continuously review poaching and trafficking trends, to ensure that the measures they implement to prevent and combat rhinoceros poaching and rhinoceros horn trafficking remain effective and are quickly adapted to respond to any newly identified trends.
The African lion symbolises strength, courage and leadership for many people and is often referred to as the King of the Beasts. It is therefore not surprising that any discussions relating to the African lion will solicit much passionate discussion and the discussions at the 17th CoP to CITES relating to the proposed transfer of all African lion population from Appendix II to Appendix I were no exception.
At the 17th CoP to CITES, the proposed listing of lion in Appendix I was discussed in detail and although the African lion range states agreed on a number of decisions that included conservation actions; studies on legal and illegal trade in lions, including bone trade; and a comparative study of lion population trends and conservation and management practices such as hunting; the range states could not reach agreement on the proposed transfer to Appendix I.
After protracted discussions, an annotation to the Appendix II listing was proposed. This meant that the African lion would remain in Appendix II, but with certain ‘conditions’ attached to the listing, which excluded certain specimens from the Appendix II listing.