High score for conservation at CITES meeting, says WWF
The agreement on an unprecedented continent-wide action plan to crack down on unregulated domestic ivory markets across Africa is a major victory, according to WWF.
The plan – which commits every African country with a domestic ivory market to either strictly control the trade or shut it down altogether with no exception – will prevent the poaching of thousands of elephants that are killed each year to feed these markets.
"Elephants are a priority species on the CITES agenda and the African action plan on ivory trade is one of the most positive outcomes of this meeting," said Dr Susan Lieberman, Head of WWF delegation at CITES. "It is an historical result because this time, all African range States have agreed to address their domestic ivory markets."
The listing of the humphead wrasse, a giant coral reef fish, on CITES Appendix II confirms the Convention's new role to better regulate the trade in commercially exploited marine fish.
The great white shark was also listed on Appendix II. Both the humphead wrasse and great white shark reproduce slowly and suffer from unsustainable fishing practices.
WWF believes that better trade controls will prove crucial to avoid further depletion of their populations.
In particular, the humphead wrasse listing will assist developing countries in ensuring that the trade in this species is sustainable and benefits the livelihoods of local coastal communities.
Cetaceans also gained trade protection at CoP13. The Convention members voted to prohibit commercial trade of the Irrawaddy dolphin. This critically endangered cetacean now joins species like great apes and big cats on Appendix I.
Minke whales remain on Appendix I, after CITES massively rejected Japan's proposals to downlist them to allow whale meat trade.
Ramin, an Asian rainforest tree, was listed in Appendix II. Bigleaf mahogany received similar protection two years ago. Like mahogany, ramin's survival in the wild is threatened by illegal logging and uncontrolled trade.
Ramin is found in orang utan and tiger habitat and its listing in Appendix II will indirectly benefit these endangered species.
"We are pleased to see that CITES has fully endorsed regulation of trade in timber and fish species," added Dr Lieberman. "The overwhelming support given to proposals that promote sustainable trade is a clear sign that governments favour measures that will ultimately have a positive impact on livelihoods of rural, forest and coastal communities."
Positive action was also taken to improve conservation and control of trade in the saiga antelope, sturgeon, Asian big cats and great apes.
The next CITES conference (CoP14) will take place in The Netherlands.
For further information:
WWF Species Programme,
tel.: +66 656 377 53 (Bangkok), +41 22 364 9093
Olivier van Bogaert,
tel.: +66 408 923 44 (Bangkok), +41 22 364 9554