First full day of the conference

Dear Friends, 

The first full day of the CITES conference is a mixed bag. Opening speeches, approval of the workplan for the meeting and then, in the afternoon, regional meetings which NGOs are not able to attend.

So, instead, we planned the SSN Reception, a regular and important feature of the Conference of the Parties.

Imagine, 600 delegates, members of the Press and NGOs; a short speech by the President of SSN (yours truly); the presentation of 8 Clark R Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards by the Secretary General of CITES, Mr Willem Wijnstekers; and two shows in the Hague’s IMAX theatre of ‘Wild Africa’.

It was a hugely successful evening and a great opportunity for the Born Free team and members of the SSN to talk to many delegates about the issues coming up in the next 10 days.

Of course, there is always the unexpected to contend with and the presence of a PR Officer from the Botswana Government handing out fliers urging delegates to support pro-ivory trade proposals was quickly and politely addressed!

The presentation of the enforcement awards, sponsored by the Animal Welfare Institute, an SSN member organisation, was a moving experience. Two of the recipients, one from Kenya and the other from Tanzania, had died in the line of duty. The other awards recognised officers in the USA, India, Cameroon and DRC, and Canada. The real conservation front-line is a dangerous and sometimes deadly place.  It is important to be reminded of this reality as we sit, cossetted in the depths of the convention centre here in The Hague.

Will

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