CITES Dateline – Bangkok, Wednesday, March 13, 2013

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The CoP16 raced ahead of schedule and all of the issues of interest to SCI and the SCI Foundation concluded today.  They are all in the win column!

  • Lion: SCI and the SCI Foundation prevented any bans or reductions of trophy exports and got agreement for CITES to wait for conclusion of ongoing lion review by range countries before coming to conclusions about the status of the species. However, in individual discussions with a couple of SCI reps, the Secretariat flatly stated to “watch out and expect a full frontal charge for listing lions at the next CoP.”
  • Polar Bear: SCI and the SCI Foundation defeated U.S. proposal to list polar bear on Appendix I (endangered).
  • Rhino: SCI and the SCI Foundation defeated Kenyan proposal to ban white rhino trophy exports from South Africa, and assisted in adopting measures to end the poaching while avoiding burdensome regulation of legitimate hunting.
  • Elephant: SCI and the SCI Foundation achieved movement toward a non-political mechanism for deciding whether elephants can be sustainably used by range state through sale of ivory from stockpiles of tusks from natural elephant mortality.

End unilateral import bans on species like the cheetah and black rhino.  SCI and the SCI Foundation achieved progress toward a series of mechanisms designed to move the U.S. and European countries away from their practice of banning otherwise-legal trophy imports:

  • Livelihoods: Don’t interfere with hunting programs that benefit local people and promote wildlife conservation.
  • Multilateral measures:  Use the mechanisms of CITES and international cooperation instead of simply refusing to allow imports of legal trophies of cheetahs, black rhinos, etc.
  • Trade policy reviews:  Avoid unilateral national policies that interfere with conservation hunting programs of other countries.
  • Achieve good science without destroying hunting and conservation: SCI and the SCI Foundation achieved reasonable non-binding guidelines to promote the required scientific “non-detriment” findings for CITES permits and got more realistic programs for assisting developing countries to find the resources needed to do the job.
  • End hassles for hunters importing their trophies:  SCI and the SCI Foundation got changes to the import permit and tagging system for leopards and elephants that should bring uniformity and the rash of seizures on shipments coming into the U.S.

Next CoP in South Africa?

South Africa will be making a bid to host the next CITES meeting in two to three years.  A decision will be made tomorrow.

Lions, Rhinos, and Elephants Likely to Dominate Discussions at CoP17

The lion status review will conclude by this time next year.  Elephant and rhino poaching are still at high levels.  South Africa has opened the door to consider legalizing trade in rhino horn as a way of combating the illegal market and the poaching.  Several African countries are sitting on valuable stockpiles of elephant ivory from natural mortality and seizures of illegal ivory shipments.  These renewable resources could be used to meet the need for funding for conservation measures and anti-poaching programs. SCI and the SCI Foundation harbor no illusions that it will be easy to get agreement to allow the use of these resources.  It will be a tough fight but could yield substantial benefits.


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