Washington, DC-The Species Survival Network (SSN), a global coalition of organizations working to protect wildlife from overexploitation due to international trade, urges delegates to the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to take bold actions to save wild animals and plants across the globe before it’s too late. The Committee will meet in Geneva, Switzerland from 27 June – 1 July, 2005.
“The international trade in wild animals and plants is a multi-billion dollar global enterprise, estimated to be second only to the illegal drug trade in worldwide profitability,” observed Will Travers, CEO of the UK-based Born Free Foundation and President of the Species Survival Network. “The Standing Committee members have an ambitious agenda before them regarding the way forward in elephant, tiger, falcon, ramin, rhinoceros, and great ape conservation. SSN will be there to try to ensure that the Committee’s decisions reflect appropriate precaution.”
The Standing Committee includes delegates from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Chile, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Germany, Iceland, the Czech Republic, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Thailand, and the Netherlands.
“CITES Parties have spoken unequivocally about the desperate need to halt the precipitous decline of numerous species at risk from trade,” Travers continued. “It is especially important for representatives from developing countries to play a fundamental role in deciding the fate of their indigenous wildlife.”
SSN Member organizations will be present at the meeting to advocate a number of specific recommendations. Among them are the following:
· Create a Great Apes Enforcement Task Force to explore the problems associated with ending the illegal trade in chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and bonobos, either live as pets or dead as “bushmeat.”
· Undertake technical missions in consultation with the UNEP/UNESCO Great Apes Survival Project (www.unep.org/grasp) to Central Africa and Southeast Asia.
· Reject any consideration of approval of specific nations as potential consumer countries for commercial quantities of elephant ivory.
· Engage in a rigorous analysis of the alleged “non-commercial” sale of ornamental ivory trinkets and jewelry from Namibia, known as “ekipas,” which was approved at the CITES meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Bangkok, Thailand, October 2004.
· Carry out targeted enforcement projects in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China to crack down on illegal trade in skins of big cats, especially tigers.
Click here to go to SSN’s Fact Sheets for the 53rd Meeting of the CITES Standing Committee