Black Rhino by Andy Luck

Black Rhino by Andy Luck

Wild Open Eye airs some thoughts on Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) 16th international Convention Of Parties so far.

March 2012, Bangkok’s international  COP 16, a two-week long convention involving representatives from over 170 countries and leading international governmental and nongovernmental groups focuses global attention on the root causes of illegal wildlife and forest trade and seeks to more effectively combat this scourge and agree best classification of species in the CITES Lists from a trade protection perspective.(View CITES website)

Alongside drugs and arms trading, wildlife trafficking is one of the largest illegal trade forms, unlike the fore-mentioned criminal activities, as the trade depletes the resource base at unsustainable rates it increases the perceived value of the trade items on the demand side and further encourages the supply side. In plain speak, the wildlife and forest trade becomes more rewarding for criminal sellers and buyers as it wipes out the animals and plants that fuel the trade. Organized criminal networks are at the rotten core of the supply chain but the demand side of the problem needs to be addressed simultaneously. This year’s meeting has so far proved helpful to Great Apes, Sharks, Turtles and Tortoises, Manta Rays and Rosewood.

African Elephants are dying in their thousands for the wildlife trade. Photo by Andy Luck

African Elephants are dying in their thousands for the wildlife trade. Photo by Andy Luck

There’s hope that China will play a more important role in addressing the demand side problem as a global economic superpower and major consumer of wildlife products. China is thought to be the World’s largest consumer market for smuggled ivory. China’s new Leader Xi Jinping has turned his sights on tackling corruption and there’ll be expectations that this will help the global effort against the wildlife trade there that consumes fauna and flora both regionally and from further afield. HRH Prince William has made a moving appeal for COP 16 and Chinese celebrities such as actress Li Bingbing and Yao Ming, the NBA star, have made educational PSAs about the ivory trade. Jackie Chan previously campaigned against use of tiger parts for use in TCM.  Animal parts such as ivory, rhino horn, tiger body parts, deer parts, turtles, shark fins, sea horses, sea cucumbers, giant clams, bear parts and bile, rare plants and more besides are consumed in China. While the SARS epidemic clearly illustrated the dangers of consuming wildlife, restaurants continue to serve wildlife dishes and traditional cultural medical practitioners and artifact makers are still precipitating endangered species towards extinction.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has promised to combat the illegal trade in ivory; as the World’s second largest consumer market for smuggled ivory after China (though China is thought to consume up to three times as much as Thailand), there is growing international pressure on the Kingdom to toughen its stance and thus help save African elephants from the consumer end.

Key points

  • Wildlife trade statistics are as staggering as they are depressing: 25,000 African Elephants slaughtered last year alone for their ivory, 100 million sharks still thought to be being killed annually, rays, turtles and tortoises, tigers, Cheetahs, birds, Sea cucumbers all being traded toward extinction in a seemingly mad race to exchange the world’s renewable and irreplaceable biodiversity for money, status symbols and medicines of dubious effect, or effect replicable by other cheaper and more sustainable means.
  • The highest levels of international government and national government representatives have agreed the seriousness of Transnational Organised Wildlife and Forest Crime and have agreed to more effectively combat it.
  • There is also growing awareness that in the face of the devastating depletion of traded species, effective law enforcement must coincide with effective habitat conservation.

Praise and thanks are due to the Swedish Government for financing COP16  and the Thai Government for hosting the convention.

It’s very important that effective enforcement backs up the commitments made at this conference and that there’s no counterproductive recidivism.  See  BBC report

CITES 40th Anniversary film on Youtube

Click on the links below to view blog articles by Hugh Paxton, Hugh is covering CITES COP 16 for The Japan Times Newspaper
U.S. Leads Efforts to Protect Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises at International Wildlife Trade Meeting
Stop Trade In Wild Cheetahs

Victory For Manta Rays At CITES

Hey, We’re Going To Save Trees. TRAFFIC reaction to CITES

WWF And Whats’ Hot In Bangkok CITES

Press Release On Sharks

CITES Time to Kill Acronyms

And click here for some exquisite views of marine reserves: