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High expectations from participants in World Wildlife Conference | Coastweek

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Local artists perform during the opening of the 17th meeting of Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg. South African President Jacob Zuma on Saturday opened the 17th COP to the CITES in Johannesburg, which will discuss key issues pertaining to the regulation of international trade in wildlife. XINHUA PHOTO - ZHAI JIANLAN

High expectations from participants in World Wildlife Conference

By Ndumiso Mlilo JOHANNESBURG (Xinhua) -- The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) kicked off in Johannesburg on Saturday with high expectations from participants.

The conference will consider different or even conflicting proposals on ways to better preserve wildlife.

Some participants told Xinhua that they expect their proposals to be considered and passed.

Professor Lee White, Director at Gabonese National Parks Service, said his delegation will submit a proposal for ivory trade and push African pangolin and grey parrots to Appendix 1 of CITES-listed most endangered animals.

The CITES prohibits international trade in specimens of these species except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for instance for scientific research.

Prof. White said what has been done is not enough to stop illegal poaching and illegal trade.

Countries, where illegal trade is rampant, should do more to combat illegal trade, he said.

Donald Lehr from the 29-member African Elephant Coalition (AEC) said they are advocating for a permanent ban on international trade in elephant ivory. The organization represents 70 percent of African elephant range states.

Lehr said the organization will also propose for the closure of domestic ivory markets around the world.

There should be an end to the debate on a mechanism to legalize ivory trade in the future, he said.

"We want to improve management of ivory stockpiles and endorse their destruction, and restrict trade in live, wild-caught elephants," Lehr said.

South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia will put forward a joint proposal for legalizing ivory trade.

Michele Pickover, Director at the Environmental Management Systems Foundation, said a more effective international treaty is needed to truly protect wild animals.

She said they would like to see all elephants, lions and African parrots moved onto Appendix 1 and no split-listings.

Pickover said a proposal to legalese trade in ivory and rhino horns should be defeated.

She said, "There will be a lot of political ‘horse-trading’ but ultimately the animals being discussed will be on the losing end.

"Obviously because of the mandate of CITES itself, but also because the illegal trade is massive and is operating under the cover of the legal trade, enforcement is generally wholly inefficient and corruption is rife. So my expectations are that enough will be done to protect our planet’s wild animals."

Pickover called on governments to change their policies and create a more caring society globally.

She also criticized CITES for being a flawed process which facilitates the trade in wild animal body parts and therefore provides a mechanism for these animals to be heavily exploited and be killed.

Pickover said, "The illegal trade is massive because there is demand.

"Demand has to be effectively tackled.

"Education has to take place on a large scale.

"Diplomats are sometimes involved (in illegal trade) and they are protected.

"This is a problem.

"There needs to be harsher sentences."

The conference will also negotiate on administrative and financial matters.

The EU is participating for the first time as a full Party at the CITES meeting, representing all 28 EU member states in one voting bloc.

Africa is home to a rich diversity of wild animals and plants, including some of the world’s most admired species.

However, the loss of habitat and poaching driven by illicit trafficking, with the latter being the most immediate threat for some species, has decimated both charismatic species, like elephant and rhino, and lesser known ones, such as pangolins, in recent years.

The conference, which will last until October 5, is bringing the world’s governments and wider community of interest together to tackle these issues, not only in Africa but on a global scale in its largest ever gathering.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

African elephants to dominate world wildlife talks: organizers

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- African elephants will dominate the discussions at the upcoming World Wildlife Conference, which will have the largest agenda on protecting wildlife, organizers said Thursday.

The conference, officially known as the 17th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), will come up with measures to combat illegal trade in endangered species, CITES Secretary General John Scanlon said at a press briefing in Johannesburg.

The conference will be held in Johannesburg between Sept. 24 and Oct. 5.

"CITES meeting are sometimes robust and intense as stakes are high. We expect that this conference will have the largest agenda we ever had. We will talk about trade controls of over 500 species of animals and plants," Scanlon said.

He said African elephants will dominate the discussions with contradicting proposals.

Scanlon said African elephants attract much attention in terms of proposals for their protection and whether to allow ivory trade, domestics markets and stockpile of ivory.

He said there will also be discussions about sharks, timber, lions and pangolins.

Scanlon also pointed to a surge in the illegal trafficking of the pangolin, saying this must be stopped.

Scanlon acknowledged progress made in the fight against wildlife trafficking but said threats still exist.

He stressed the need to address where the animals and plants are trafficked from, along the way and their destination.
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EU pushes further tightening of wildlife trade rules at global summit

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) said on Saturday it will seek stricter international measures against wildlife trafficking, in line with the EU action plan on wildlife trafficking.

The EU issued the statement at the 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES CoP17) in Johannesburg.

Representatives from 182 countries will agree to tangible measures to better protect some of the planet’s most vulnerable species.

The conference, which opened on Saturday and will last until October 5, provides a forum for Parties to review the implementation of the CITES Convention, which covers more than 35,000 plants and animals, ensuring that trade remains legal, traceable and sustainable, and to adopt new binding measures for wildlife protection.

The EU is participating for the first time as a full member of CITES.

The EU and its member states, represented by Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella, come to Johannesburg with a united voice and an ambitious agenda, the EU statement said.

The EU will propose to address wildlife trafficking and the corruption associated with it, to define international standards on trade in hunting trophies, ensuring that such trade can only happen when both legal and sustainable.

It will also propose to include additional marine (sharks), timber (rosewood), and exotic pet species (reptiles) in CITES, or upgrading their protection under CITES (parrots and mammals) as they are subject to unsustainable or illegal international trade, the statement said.

Commissioner Vella said:

"The EU is proud to be a world leader in the fight against wildlife trafficking. We see the CITES CoP as an opportunity to get even tougher on the fight against wildlife trafficking and the corruption that fuels it.

"Through CITES, we will be working with our partners to implement the new EU Wildlife Action Plan to the full.

"We are building a global alliance among countries to protect wildlife where it lives, block points of transit, and stamp out the illegal demand".

In particular, the EU will support a continuation of the ban on international trade in ivory and press for the adoption of strong measures against ivory trafficking, as well as trafficking affecting rhinoceroses, tigers, great apes, pangolins and rosewood, said the statement.

The EU’s efforts are part of a broader approach to fight illegal trade in wildlife. Earlier this year the EU agreed on a comprehensive Wildlife Trafficking Action Plan which will be implemented jointly by the EU institutions and the member states up to 2020.

             

 

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