20 July 2012
The buying and selling of wild animals and plants and their body parts is an industry worth billions of dollars a year. It can have extremely damaging, sometimes irreversible, impacts on the species being traded. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement designed to protect species threatened by international trade, either through the implementation of trade regulations or even trade bans. More than 30,000 different species of plants and animals are protected by CITES regulations.
Every 2 to 3 years, the 175 member countries meet to review the impact of trade on various species to decide whether additional measures which can include international trade bans are necessary. The CITES Standing Committee, together with various experts including the Born Free Foundation, meet for a week every year in Geneva to discuss issues as varied as tiger farming, elephant poaching and the export of mahogany.
This year's standing commitee begins next Monday 23rd July. Born Free will be reporting back daily from the meeting on many issues, in particular, the current threat to elephants from the bloody ivory trade. Born Free is calling for the removal of Japan and China’s ‘ivory trading partner’ status, and trying to ensure that measures which would allow the resumption of the ivory trade are prevented.
Will Travers, Born Free CEO and CITES expert, explained: “Since the ban on the international ivory trade came into force in 1989, there have unfortunately been several legal ‘one off’ sales of ivory. These have singularly failed to satisfy spiralling demand, as some people hoped. Instead, we have witnessed massive levels of elephant poaching, thousands of kilos of illegal ivory intercepted on an all-too-regular basis, and a spike in the price of raw ivory never seen before.”
Rhinos will also be on the agenda. With more than 260 poached so far this year in South Africa alone, many observers are wondering what can stop the onslaught. The United Kingdom, as an outgoing member of the Standing Committee and Chair of the CITES Rhino Working Group, carries a heavy responsibility for taking urgent measures to turn the tide.
If you care about the future of wildlife, keep a daily eye on Will’s Blog, Twitter @willtravers, and Born Free's Twitter @BFFoundation, Facebook and YouTube for news from Geneva and check out www.bornfree.org.uk and www.bloodyivory.org