OUR WORK: SSN Assists Countries with CITES Outreach

On 12 – 14 August, Senegal hosted a workshop in Dakar to facilitate implementation of the recently adopted shark and ray listings on Appendix II of CITES. The workshop was held in collaboration with the government of Sierra Leone, with support from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Commission Sub-Régional des Pêches (CSRP). In preparation for the workshop, SSN developed a CITES enforcement guide, focused on sharks and rays, to support the implementation and enforcement of the new CITES shark and ray listings. The guide is available in English and in French. To download the guide please click here [French] [English]. For more information about the workshop please [click here ].

With support from SSN member organizations The Born Free Foundation, Humane Society International, Four Paws, Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, World Animal Net and AAP Sanctuary for Exotic Animals, SSN designed, printed and distributed wildlife crime enforcement posters to African delegations at the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES which took place in Bangkok, Thailand on 3-14 March 2013. The posters are intended for use at border points throughout the African continent to warn travelers and tourists against participating in illegal wildlife trade. To view this poster, please click [here].

In April 2012, SSN, working in collaboration with SSN member organization Conservation Justice and the governments of Gabon, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Congo, launched an outreach campaign to strengthen CITES enforcement in Central Africa. Responding to growing concern about the danger that increasing levels of illegal trade represent to CITES-listed species in the region, SSN and Conservation Justice designed a poster informing tourists and the general public that such trade is strictly regulated. This poster was distributed for public display throughout the four countries targeted by this initiative. The campaign has been welcomed by the Central African Forests Commission and the CITES Secretariat. To download the poster, please click [here].

Representatives from 22 countries and from international, sub-regional and non-governmental organizations met in Libreville (Gabon) during October 2011 for the 17th meeting of the Directors General of Customs from Francophone countries. One of the themes discussed by the meeting, “Customs and Sustainable Development”, focused on the role of customs in the implementation of various international treaties including CITES. SSN’s presentation on CITES led to animated debates about illegal wildlife trade and the role of customs in the implementation of the Convention. Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General for the World Customs Organization (WCO), chaired discussions on this theme and reaffirmed WCO’s commitment to supporting its member countries in the fight against illegal wildlife trade. Meeting participants recognized that customs must play a major role in the implementation of international agreements such as CITES, and recognized the need for simplification of the rules in place, better training, stronger coordination between national administrations and international organizations, and the education of stakeholders involved in international wildlife trade. The General Secretary of the WCO, with support from meeting participants, called on countries to implement regional operations to fight against species trafficking. Please contact Alice Stroud at SSN’s Africa Regional Bureau if you have any questions.

All seven species of sea turtles are considered to be globally threatened or endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and are currently listed on Appendix I of CITES. This listing prohibits commercial trade in their parts or products. Three endangered sea turtle species (leatherback, hawksbill and green) inhabit the waters around the Comoros where they are subject to poaching for meat, eggs and shells. 

The Comoros government asked SSN for assistance with outreach to the public, including children, to strengthen the conservation of sea turtles in the country. SSN designed two posters for the Comoros authorities, one for adults and the other for children, and provided funding for the distribution of these posters throughout the country, in cooperation with two SSN members, the Born Free Foundation and Humane Society International [Download: children’s poster, adult’s poster].

In 2004 the government of the Comoros adopted a law prohibiting all harvesting of sea cucumbers for commercial purposes. Despite this protective legislation, illegal harvesting and trade are cause for concern. Growing international demand in Asia is placing many sea cucumber species at risk. In response, SSN, in cooperation with three SSN members, the Born Free Foundation, the Animal Welfare Institute and Humane Society International, is providing posters aimed at both adults and children on the protection of sea cucumbers in the country [Download: children’s poster, adult’s poster].

The Bafing Fauna Reserve is a protected area in Southern Mali which covers 158,989 ha and includes a Chimpanzee Sanctuary. This protected area shelters a vast array of protected plants and about 260 animal species, including many CITES species such as West African chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus), hippopotamuses (Hippopotamus amphibius), lions (Panthera leo), leopards (Panthera pardus) and white-backed vultures (Gyps africanus). The Bafing area is one of the poorest regions of a country ranked 173rd out of 177 nations in the United Nations Human Development Index. The area is hard to access due to poor road conditions and has until now received very little support from the international community despite its very rich biodiversity. Several animal species in the area such as West African chimpanzees, leopards, and African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) are listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List. Other species, including West African giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta) and African elephants (Loxodonta africana), have already disappeared from the Reserve. At the request of Malian authorities, SSN designed a calendar, featuring pictures of key protected species in the Bafing Fauna Reserve, to raise awareness of the public on the need to preserve the ecosystem and its resources [Download calendar]. 

Illegal trade in ivory continues to pose a serious threat to many wild elephant populations, and is on the increase in many range States. The SSN Elephant Working Group database on elephant ivory seizures contains records indicating that at least 176,695kg (176 tons) of ivory were seized worldwide between 1998 and 2007. This represents the death of more than 26,674 elephants. There are fewer than 200 elephants remaining in Sierra Leone. The government of Sierra Leone called on SSN to help with public outreach on the need to stop illegal ivory trade in the country. SSN designed a poster for the Sierra Leonean authorities, and provided funding for the distribution of this poster throughout the country in cooperation with SSN Members, Born Free Foundation and Humane Society International. [Download poster]. 

For more information on the CITES outreach work conducted by SSN in the African region, please contact Alice Stroud at alicestroud@ssn.org 

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