SWARA

This year’s CITES conference was contentiou­s, but yielded positive news for some threatened species, as Felix Patton explains.

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Some 183 countries belong to the Convention on Internatio­nal Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which met in Geneva in August. Growing demand for exotic pets, particular­ly fish and reptiles, inspired some 20 proposals. There were several proposals of interest to East African countries, particular­ly concerning elephants, rhinos, and giraffes.

Kenya, acting on behalf of the 32 member states of the African Elephant Coalition, which includes all the EAC countries except Tanzania, opposed all the southern African-led elephant proposals.

A proposal to trade raw ivory stocks of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, was rejected. Some countries argued that “maintainin­g a domestic ivory market creates opportunit­ies for laundering illegally obtained ivory, presents monitoring and enforcemen­t challenges, in particular, due to the difficulty of policing online trade, and undermines ivory bans in other countries by providing an alternativ­e outlet to which suppliers and trafficker­s can relocate.”

(Reference Swara articles by Esmond Bradley Martin and Lucy Vigne on trade.) – Swara JulySeptem­ber 2016, (pg 44),

– Swara January-March 2018, (pg 28), – Swara January-March 2018, (Pg 38).

Zimbabwe has been selling wild-caught baby elephants to China, and Eswatini, (formerly Swaziland), to zoos in the United States. Amendments to regulation­s were approved, preventing such trade in the future.

Similarly rejected was a proposal by Zambia to loosen the restrictio­ns on sales of its elephants for hunting trophies, raw ivory, and other elephant products.

Kenya was one of the proponents for giraffe to be listed, for the first time, on Appendix II to help arrest the species’ ongoing decline. Many states from West, Central and East Africa said internatio­nal trade was impacting their giraffe population­s.

Giraffe are traded internatio­nally, and used for jewellery, bracelets, skins, mounts, carved bone, tails, and purses. Giraffe bone is used as a substitute for ivory in knife and gun handles. They also suffer from bushmeat trade. One benefit of giraffe being listed on Appendix II is a requiremen­t on all range states to collect and provide data, currently lacking, on the extent of trade in their countries. While trade may not be the main cause of the decline in wild giraffe population­s, it might have an additive effect when combined with habitat loss, civil unrest, and poaching for bushmeat.

The proposal was approved, but with strong opposition from eight southern African countries who were unhappy that the new measures would require strict monitoring and control of permits for trade. The particular sub-species of giraffe found in Southern Africa has an increasing population of over 20,000 and its success was said to be the result of trophy hunting and the selling of giraffe parts.

Southern African countries united to argue for rhino trade. Namibia requested permission to trade live white rhinos to “appropriat­e and acceptable destinatio­ns” as well as rhino horns as hunting trophies. Namibia reported a growing population of over 1,000 White rhinos, the majority on private land, but escalating

GIRAFFE ARE TRADED INTERNATIO­NALLY, AND USED FOR JEWELLERY, BRACELETS, SKINS, MOUNTS, CARVED BONE, TAILS, AND PURSES.

protection costs were a liability. Additional income would come from trade.

A proposal from Eswatini went further, requesting the country’s Appendix II restrictio­ns be lifted to allow the sale of its 330kg existing stock of rhino horn to licenced retailers in the Far East along with the sale of a further 20kg of horn per year thereafter. Both proposals were rejected with opponents arguing that any legal trade could enable further illegal trade and stimulate demand for horn, which would lead to increased poaching.

However, South Africa won in its bid to increase the number of Black rhinos that can be killed as trophies (from 5 to 9 per year) arguing the money raised would support conservati­on of the critically endangered species.

A proposal to create the African Carnivore Initiative - a collaborat­ion between 31 African range states with lions, cheetahs, leopards and wild dogs, was approved.

It was agreed that urgent action was required to conserve the four species, subject to habitat degradatio­n, prey depletion through poaching, livestock rearing, and human/carnivore conflict, including poisoning and illegal killing.

Kenya also fought to diminish the trade in two fish species, commonly referred to as whitespott­ed wedgefish, sold in the Hong Kong shark fin retail market, the global hub of the trade. The proposal was accepted. Sea cucumbers, or bêche-de-mer (the dried product), were given protection.

Some protection was won for Pancake tortoise, found in Kenya and Tanzania where they are also raised in captivity on a few breeding farms. Overexploi­tation for internatio­nal live animal trade has resulted in declining population­s.

Another species of interest to East Africa, the most heavily poached animal worldwide, is the Pangolin, already subject to Appendix I regulation­s. Pangolin range states which had not already done so were urged to “take urgent steps to develop and implement in-situ pangolin management and conservati­on programmes, which includes population assessment­s and report on the implementa­tion of this Decision to the Secretaria­t.”

The final session saw Tanzania, on behalf of the Southern African Developmen­t Community (SADC), state that CITES was not aligned to other internatio­nal agreements and contradict­ed principles of national sovereignt­y and the rights of local communitie­s to use their wildlife resources.

 ??  ?? BELOW: Despite a ban on the internatio­nal trade in ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks. The ivory is often carved into ornaments and jewellery.
BELOW: Despite a ban on the internatio­nal trade in ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks. The ivory is often carved into ornaments and jewellery.
 ??  ?? ABOVE RIGHT: Every year, around 20,000 African elephants are killed by poachers for their tusks, which are then sold in the illegal ivory trade. That’s an average of one every 25 minutes.
ABOVE RIGHT: Every year, around 20,000 African elephants are killed by poachers for their tusks, which are then sold in the illegal ivory trade. That’s an average of one every 25 minutes.
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 ??  ?? Some of the giraffe products in trade: giraffe bone handled knife (Above), giraffe bones (Middle) and giraffe skin rug (Below).
BELOW: Giraffes are poached for their meat in many regions of Africa — as well as for their pelts, bones, hair and tails — by hunters and trappers wielding snares, guns and other weapons. Giraffe hair is used to make jewelry, and giraffe tails are highly valued by some cultures.
Some of the giraffe products in trade: giraffe bone handled knife (Above), giraffe bones (Middle) and giraffe skin rug (Below). BELOW: Giraffes are poached for their meat in many regions of Africa — as well as for their pelts, bones, hair and tails — by hunters and trappers wielding snares, guns and other weapons. Giraffe hair is used to make jewelry, and giraffe tails are highly valued by some cultures.
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 ??  ?? ABOVE RIGHT: Cheetahs are usually killed for their skin.
ABOVE RIGHT: Cheetahs are usually killed for their skin.
 ??  ?? ABOVE LEFT: Pangolin is the world's most trafficked and poached mammal.
ABOVE LEFT: Pangolin is the world's most trafficked and poached mammal.
 ??  ?? BELOW LEFT: Rhino population­s have declined rapidly leaving some species critically endangered and facing extinction.
BELOW LEFT: Rhino population­s have declined rapidly leaving some species critically endangered and facing extinction.

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