Animal Defenders International

 

Animal Defenders International

Wildlife crime measures starting to show results, CITES meeting reports

Posted: 23 July 2014

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At the 65th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee, held in Geneva from July 7th-11th, 2014, attendees from around the world discussed the challenges faced and progress made in tackling the illegal wildlife trade.

Elephants

Last year, eight countries (China, Kenya, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Vietnam) developed national ivory action plans containing specific time bound actions; these included ground work to strengthen law enforcement responses, such as setting up elite anti-poaching units; informant networks; and increasing the use of technology to fight wildlife crime. A year on, it appears enforcement has improved, evident by the large increase in the number of seizures made in Africa. As a result, these plans will continue to be implemented over the next year and, as a matter of urgency, an additional 11 countries will be asked to adopt them.

Thailand however was singled out as a country of concern and given specific objectives to meet strict deadlines by next year. A recent TRAFFIC report earlier this month revealed similar concerns regarding the illegal trafficking of elephants in Thailand.

Rhinos

Rhino poaching is increasing year on year, aggressively threatening populations. Alarming statistics from South Africa revealed the shocking extent of the issue - 36 rhinos were poached in 2006, 122 in 2009, 448 in 2011, 1,004 in 2013 and over 500 in the first six months of this year. In an effort to combat the illegal trade which transnational organized crime groups are heavily involved in CITES requested that the key countries report on the specific actions they have taken to combat rhino poaching.

On a positive note, Vietnam, the primary destination for illegal rhino horn, reported that they had enhanced efforts to reduce demand and increased the number of seizures and arrests.

Pangolins and Asian big cats

The illegal trade in pangolins (a scaly anteater) and Asian big cats (particularly tigers) and their body parts is sadly on the rise, having a profound impact on the species. An inter-sessional working group was established to address the threat posed to pangolins over the next year and multiple decisions were made to address the issue in tigers, including implementing demand reduction strategies, amongst others.

ADI welcomes the important developments taken to combat the illegal wildlife trade and hopes that further gains in animal protection can be made over the coming year.

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