International wildlife trade meeting set to begin in South Africa this weekend
This Saturday, delegates from 182 countries will convene in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 17th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Wildlife experts at Humane Society International warn that decisions taken at the upcoming CITES international wildlife trade meeting could be 'do or die' for some of the world's most iconic and threatened wild species such as African elephants, rhinos, and pangolins.
Under consideration at this meeting are a number of proposals concerning both marine and terrestrial species including species of shark and rays, elephants, rhinos and lions, with proposals seeking to regulate their trade internationally. Pangolins, the most heavily trafficked mammal species in the world, will be a focus of the CoP with eight pangolin species proposed for inclusion under Appendix I of CITES, the highest level of protection possible under the Convention. A focus for HSI will be on the shark species under consideration which include the thresher and silky shark, and mobula rays.
"Shark and ray populations are in trouble and international trade is a key driver in their decline as sharks are being taken at an unsustainable rate primarily for their fins for shark fin soup,” said Jessica Morris, Humane Society International's Marine Scientist. "CITES provides us with an important opportunity to better regulate shark products to sustainable levels and help protect the future of these species. We are therefore strongly urging all countries, especially Australia, to support these proposals.”
There are a number of proposals before CITES Parties regarding African elephants. HSI hopes that all parties, including Australia, will support the proposal which would ensure all international commercial trade in African elephant ivory would be prohibited and would simplify enforcement. A proposal to list all populations of the African lion under Appendix I of CITES will also be considered at the meeting and will prevent international trade from becoming a more serious threat. HSI also hopes a proposal to permit a limited and regulated trade in white rhino horn out of Swaziland is rejected, as it would encourage trade in rhino horns, undermining the current international and domestic bans on trade.
HSI's delegation of 11 wildlife experts will join a strong team of campaigners in Johannesburg from the Species Survival Network (SSN), a coalition of more than 90 national and international conservation groups that work together to secure CITES protection for species threatened by wildlife trade.
More information including factsheets on each of the proposals under consideration can be viewed at http://www.ssn.org/. The meeting will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 24th September - 5th October 2016.