From Nepal: CITES Report, Wildlife Times and a New Book

03 May 2010 | News story

From CEC Nepal National Activator Mangal Man Shakya comes the latest issue of his publication "Wildlife Times" and a report on the March meeting on CITES, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. Mangal's NGO launched a new book on the horn and tusk trade at the event in Doha, Qatar.
 

Summary

The decision to save tigers and elephants came as a relief to the entire participants of 15th CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP 15) in Doha, Qatar. The proposals by Tanzania and Zambia to down list their elephant population was rejected on the ground down listing the protection to selective elephant populations and making negative amendments in the moratorium in one-off sale of stockpile ivory can have a disastrous impact on other elephant populations, including those in Asia. 

Report

“The fate of elephants in Asia as well as in Africa would have been gravely compromised had the down listing been approved," said Dr. Esmond Bradley Martin, author of the new book From the Jungle to Kathmandu: Horn and Tusk Trade, which was launched during the recent CITES CoP. 

"We have been saying this for a long time. Any move to facilitate African elephant ivory trade, even regulated, can, and have earlier been proven to impact Asian elephants too. It’s only logical that there would be attempts to launder illegal ivory into the mainstream market. The same goes for tigers too,  Dr. Martin said. His book, which was published by Wildlife Watch Group of Nepal, was launched on 22 March amidst press conference during the debate session on whether or not to down list the African elephant.

For the tigers, though no greater protection was accorded, the parties decided that countries should not breed tigers for trade of their parts and derivatives. This decision was taken after the intensive investigations in China revealed that the tiger farming operations are openly executing the illegal selling of tiger body parts While in wild, only 50 wild tigers are left in China, the tiger farms collectively have over 6000 tigers and boast an annual reproduction rate of 1000. “words alone will not save wild tigers as a global poaching epidemic empties Asia’s forests and CITES governments will need to live up to the commitments made,” said Mr. Mark Jones of the Care for the Wild International. The decision made by the parties on tigers and elephants was a relief compared to other wild animals like polar bear and blue fin tuna.

In the present day scenario, the trade and commerce hold such a place that they outnumbered conservation at CoP 15. Economic concerns hindered efforts to restrict trade in several commercially profitable marine species at the 175-nation Convention on International trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in Doha. Willem Wijnstekers, the CITES secretary-general made remark “As soon as big money gets involved, the’s’ of science is crossed out by two vertical stripes,” meaning it becomes "$cience" spelt with a dollar sign.

For all the traders and the entrepreneurs who profit from wildlife, CITES acts as an annoyance. Japan resisted in placing bluefin tuna under protective list as these Atlantic bluefin tuna which is an essential ingredient of Japan’s most popular delicacy sushi, is in the verge of endangerment. Because of economic interests, the countries and people have become reluctant to take any major decision regarding conservation.

The US proposal to protect polar bears, which thrust the issue of climate change on the agenda of the conference for the first time, was rejected. Tom Strickland, the US assistant secretary of the interior for fish, wildlife and parks, said. "But the history of CITES is one built on supporting conservation over a period of time. We have a strong foundation, and often it takes several conferences to get things listed," he said.

All the proposals for marine species were rejected. The Porbeagle Shark, which was the only marine species that was granted protection before was exempted from the list later on. It was mentioned that all the marine species were voted down saying provincial fisheries groups — not CITES — should supervise local populations.

This effect was due to the influence of the political parties which affects the decision makers. Japan and China and other supporting countries held negotiations for repeated rejection of proposal to conserve marine species like Atlantic bluefin tuna, 31 species of red and pink coral and several shark species.

The effort for ban simply failed because of the profitable trade in Bluefin tuna and Shark fin. The Bluefin sushi market is worth billions in Japan, and the shark fin soup market in China is considered a highly profitable business. Australia, Canada and Japan are among the countries refusing to back a total ban on the Bluefin tuna trade.

CITES afforded protection to ocelots, jaguars, alligators and crocodiles. CoP in Doha set up an example unlike Copenhagen as governments made progress towards implementing better protection for rhinos, tigers, some lesser plants, reptile and insect species. Conservation plans to protect Asian big cats as well as rhinos at the meeting were approved.

CITES is the only UN body with the power to ban trade in endangered animals and plants and endorsed international laws for protection of a rare salamander in Iran and the spiny-tailed iguanas of Guatemala.
The rejection of Monaco's proposal to have a ban on the international commercial trade in Atlantic Bluefin tuna, and the efforts to protect the hunting of sharks for their fins was proved as the greatest failure in the summit. The conference was seen as a massive failure by conservation groups that had come to Doha to protect some of the planet's most endangered but also most lucrative creatures.

The marine and fisheries experts have concluded that the bluefin tuna's days are numbered with the stocks of the fish having dropped some 72 percent, mostly over the past decade and unless there is an immediate ban it will become extinct in the very near future.

It is agreed upon that even though developed countries play significant roles in decision making, CITES is still very much needed for the conservation of species.

For more information, contact:
Mr. Mangal Man Shakya, Chairman, Wildlife Watch Group, (WWG) mangal.shakya@gmail.com

See also a press release from www.cites.org >>