Between 3-15 March 2013 the Sixteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP16) to CITES took place in Bangkok, Thailand.
The trade in a number of species was up for discussion and a vote. There were Proposals for increased protection for African elephants, polar bears, white rhinos, West African manatees, manta rays and sharks. Proposals for decreased protection included those for various frog and crocodile species.
As always, Born Free was in attendance, working on a range of species and issues, calling for a precautionary approach and increased protection for vulnerable wild animal and plant species. See our video play list above, for a breakdown of the events.
Find out more about the illegal ivory trade on Born Free's dedicated website www.bloodyivory.org
Now that the recent CITES meeting (the 16th Conference of the Parties, or CoP16) has drawn to an end, it is a good time for Born Free to reflect on the outcomes for wildlife. Was it a positive or a negative meeting for elephants, cheetahs and the other wild animals we care about? Born Free believes that overall it was a very positive conference with unprecedented success for some species, particularly for marine animals. Below we have provided a short summary of the highlights:
Elephants: Born Free was delighted that the implementation and funding of the African Elephant Action Plan (a blueprint for action to protect African elephants across all 38 range States) was adopted as a long-term objective within CITES. Read more about the African Elephant Action Plan and much more at www.bloodyivory.org
Numerous other decisions directed at tackling the devastating elephant poaching crisis were also taken, such as an agreement to conduct DNA analysis of seized ivory in order to enhance enforcement efforts. Discussions concerning a ‘Decision-Making Mechanism for a future trade in ivory’ were delayed until CoP17 in 2016. Born Free will be keeping a close eye on how this develops over the next three years.
Rhino: although Kenya’s proposal to suspend exports of rhino trophies from Swaziland and South Africa was withdrawn, Kenya was an integral part of negotiations that led to a large number of important decisions, including: agreement over improved enforcement actions to bring rhino traffickers to justice; agreement to enact legislation to ensure that members of organised crime groups implicated in rhino crimes will be adequately prosecuted and agreement that Vietnam and other consumer countries should undertake measures to reduce the demand in rhino horn. Time will tell whether these measures have a significant impact on the rampant levels of poaching currently taking place.
Cheetah: Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda were successful in their appeal to CITES for a study to be undertaken concerning the impacts of international trade in cheetah. Born Free is hopeful that this study will result in decisions being taken to improve protection for wild cheetah from international trade. Read more about Born Free’s work to protect cheetahs that have been illegally traded.
Tigers: With around 3,500 tigers remaining in the wild, ongoing poaching, a growing number of ‘tiger farms’ and evidence of a lucrative cross-border trade in tiger parts and products, the urgent need for a comprehensive assessment of current trade and demand for tigers is clear. Although the lack of reporting to CITES on efforts to end this trade has hampered this assessment so far, CITES has now set a July 2014 deadline for countries to submit these reports and for CITES to oversee a review of current efforts and issue recommendations on any necessary next steps. Read more about Born Free’s work to protect tigers
Sharks and Manta Rays: Several proposals to improve protection for shark species from international trade were adopted by CITES. These species included hammerheads, oceanic whitetip and porbeagle. Manta rays were also given this enhanced protection. This was an unprecedented step forwards for CITES, as previous efforts to protect marine species have faced severe opposition. Loud applause could be heard reverberating around the massive conference centre on adoption of these proposals!
West African Manatee: an often-neglected species, we were delighted that the proposal by Senegal, Sierra Leone and Benin, to increase protection for the West African manatee was adopted by consensus!
In total there were 75 species proposals submitted to CITES, so it would be challenging to report on them all here. But if you would like further details, you can visit the Species Survival Network website www.ssn.org, or contact Shelley Waterland firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to all of you that gave us vital encouragement in the lead up and during the CITES meeting itself – we are already gearing up for the next Conference of Parties which will be held in South Africa in 2016!