REPTILES DOMINATE AT CITES
Friday was a reptile-focused day at CITES, with a number of important proposals being put forward by Parties. First up were three crocodile proposals for which approval was being sought to transfer some populations of the American, Saltwater and Siamese crocodiles from Appendix I (which bans international trade) to Appendix II. All proposals went to a vote and none were adopted – an outcome HSI supported.
Next up was New Zealand’s proposal to list New Zealand Green Geckos (Naultinus spp) in Appendix II. These green geckos are much sought after, particularly by European traders for the pet trade, due to the gecko’s striking green colouration which has led to them being referred to as ‘the world’s most beautiful geckos’. Sadly this is leading to the species decline in New Zealand, so the New Zealand Government is seeking CITES’ help to regulate this trade, and assist enforcement authorities around the world in confiscating illegally obtained specimens.
Earlier this week HSI attended an important presentation by New Zealand, and we have been giving them our full support to ensure the best chances for this proposal, which was previously considered in 2003 and rejected. However, this year discussions were much more positive. After many statements of support on the floor of the meeting, New Zealand’s proposal was adopted by consensus. This is a fantastic outcome for these beautiful animals, and we hope this will help protect the green gecko from the pressures posed by the international pet trade.
The rest of the day was dominated by consideration of proposals to provide protection for a total of 45 turtle species, which were adopted by consensus by CITES Parties. This included one of the world’s rarest turtles, the Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle, and three North American species: the spotted turtle; Blanding’s turtle; and the diamondback terrapin. These species are in demand overseas for the pet trade and for human consumption.
This is really fantastic news as it means that all Southeast Asian freshwater turtle species are now listed on the CITES Appendices and a number of the most threatened species have been granted increased levels of protection. With HSI having a keen interest in turtle conservation in SE Asia, this added protection can only help our ongoing efforts as part of the Asian Turtle Program (ATP), the Asian Turtle Conservation Network (ATCN) and the Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF).
The amphibians also hopped into action to close out the day, with the Machalilla frog proposed by Ecuador being included in Appendix II, and two Australian species, the Southern gastric-brooding frog and the Northern gastric-brooding frog both being deleted from Appendix II, sadly due to their suspected extinction.
With a full week of work completed, CITES concluded its discussions for the weekend. The shark and ray proposals are next on the list and due for discussion and no doubt heated debate first thing on Monday morning. With the listing of shark and rays being a key focus of HSI’s here in Bangkok, Monday is going to be an important day. We will therefore be working hard over the weekend to ensure that we can get the best possible outcome next week – we know the sharks are relying on us.