South Africa 5.10.2016 10:48 am

Six outcomes from Cites

A pangolin. Picture: Thinkstock

A pangolin. Picture: Thinkstock

‘This conference can only be viewed as a major success for wildlife conservation.’

The world’s largest ever wildlife trade meeting, the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) wrapped up in Johannesburg yesterday, October 4.

The conference saw more than 180 countries vote to maintain the international ban on trade in ivory and rhino horn while adopting global bans on trade in pangolins and African grey parrots. This comes at a time when illegal and unsustainable trade is endangering wildlife across the world, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Theressa Frantz, WWF co-head of delegation to CITES CoP17, said: “With much of the world’s wildlife threatened by poaching and unsustainable trade, governments had to take bold action here in Johannesburg, and they did. This conference can only be viewed as a major success for wildlife conservation.”

All decisions taken at CoP17 will take about three months before they become legally binding.

Listed below are six of the outcomes from the conference:

  1. Closure of domestic ivory markets

A call was made for the closure of domestic ivory markets that are contributing to illegal trade. Countries also backed the Cites-led National Ivory Action Plan process, which identifies countries that are weak points in the illegal ivory trade chain, and is central to efforts to halt the ivory trade.

Cites also left Vietnam and Mozambique in no doubt that they must crack down on the illegal rhino-horn trade within a year or face the threat of sanctions.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE: Elephants lose out – IFAW

2. Pangolin

The pangolin, a scaly anteater, is now listed on Appendix 1, which lists the most endangered of Cites-listed animals and plants. This means that international trade of pangolins is prohibited, unless it is for scientific research.

An advocacy group for saving the pangolin, Annamiticus, said that of 77 pangolin trafficking incidents spanning 19 countries, 18 670 tons of pangolin scales, 676 pangolin carcasses, and 611 live pangolins were recovered.

Nearly 13 500 tons of pangolin scales came from Africa, all of which were seized in Hong Kong, said Annamiticus.

Pangolins have been traded internationally primarily for their skin for leather manufacturing, while their scales and meat have been regionally exploited for traditional medicine and food both in Asia and Africa.

READ THE FULL STORY: Bittersweet decision on the humble pangolin

3. Sharks and mantra rays

The fin trade remains the principle driver of shark declines, but the Cites listings are having a significant impact in this area, with 181 parties to Cites making concerted efforts to effectively implement these recent Cites listings of sharks and manta rays. Strict regulations were imposed on the trade in silky and thresher sharks, and devil rays.

READ THE FULL STORY: Sharks, rays remain critically endangered, but there’s hope

Countries adopted enhanced traceability mechanisms that are at the heart of efforts to develop sustainable fisheries for sharks and rays, and tightened up rules relating to tiger farms and trade in captive-bred animals, which will help prevent the laundering of wild-caught animals.

Frantz said: “Bans make the headlines, but rigorous implementation makes the difference. Countries have no excuse: they now have a broader set of tools and a clear expectation that they must act or be held accountable.”

4. African grey parrots

The convention voted to up-list wild populations of African grey parrots to Appendix I, which will end the international commercial trade of these birds, which are highly prized as pets due to their highly vocal nature and their ability to learn and mimic human language.

Legal trade data estimates that more than 1.3 million African greys were exported from range states between 1975 and 2013, with an average of 40% to 60% dying due to deplorable transit and transport conditions. This means the true estimate of African greys captured in just under 40 years is between 2.1 and 3.2 million birds.

READ THE FULL STORY: Cites bans commercial trade in African grey parrots

5. Rosewood tree

Strict regulations were imposed on the trade of all species of rosewood tree.

The Cites committee recommended the inclusion of genus Dalbergia (rosewood found across the world, including Madagascar) in Appendix II, with exception to the species included in Appendix I.

Timber policy expert, WWF Vanessa Dick, said: “Efforts to halt the unsustainable rosewood trade just received a major boost. By listing the entire genus, all Dalbergia species – including those in high demand – will finally receive the protection needed to avoid further local and regional extinction. This inclusive listing promotes a practical approach that avoids issues in species identification that previously hindered effective implementation.”

6. Cape Mountain Zebra

The conference saw the delisting of the Cape Mountain zebra from Appendix I to Appendix II. This means trades in the less than 5 000 strong species may happen, subject to certain condition.

Caxton News Service (Additional info: African News Agency and Amanda Watson)

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