Guns Drawn as CITES Meeting Nears

Hot on the heels of the 15th UN Climate Conference held in Copenhagen – or CoP 15 – is another not so loudly obvious CoP 15: The CITES Conference of Parties to be held in Doha, Qatar, between 13 and 25 March 2010. For the unfamiliar, this is meeting that decides what endangered animal or plant (or part thereof) can be bought and sold in the open market. CITES (Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international treaty whose aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

auction of ivory
Previous ivory auction in Namibia (photo: CITES)

As is usually the case in all CoP meetings the African Elephant and trade in it’s ivory is again expected to provide the most spectacular fireworks during the meeting. Already, both the pro- and anti-ivory trade camps are starting to amass their weapons in preparation for the mother of all CITES battles. Kenya, the unofficial leader of the anti-ivory trade block is already preparing to make a strong stand on the proposal to legalize trade in ivory and rhino horns.

On the other hand, Kenya’s next door neighbour, Tanzania, has thrown a spanner in the works with their proposal to be allowed to sell ivory in the manner that South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana sold theirs after CoP14 in October/November 2008.

One of Kenya’s major newspapers, the Daily Nation, has reported Kenya’s wildlife minister’s resolve to lead the country in opposing ivory trade even as he expressed his displeasure at Tanzania’s new proposal that could throw the elephant discussions further into disarray.

Kenya to oppose trade in ivory

By FRED MUKINDA Posted Monday, December 21 2009 at 20:00 [Daily Nation]

Kenya is preparing a strong defence against a proposal to legalise trade in ivory and rhino horns.

The stand aimed at saving diminishing species from poachers is expected to meet opposition from other countries, including Tanzania with which it shares a population of the wild animals.

Wildlife minister Noah Wekesa called on the global community to sustain the ban and faulted Tanzania for coming up with the proposal to be discussed at next year’s Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Doha.

The minister said Kenya was not consulted by her neighbour yet the two countries share Serengeti-Tsavo West-Mkomazi and Amboseli-Kilimanjaro parks, in which many of the species are found.

“By Tanzania going that route yet we have shared ecosystems, Kenya is likely to lose more rhinos and elephants to poachers,” said Dr Wekesa.

Head of species conservation and management at the Kenya Wildlife Service, Mr Patrick Omondi, said Kenya had lost 214 elephants to poachers in 2008 compared to 47 in 2007 as a result of an experimental approval by CITES on a one- off sale of ivory.

“Our experience has shown that trade in ivory and rhino horns stimulates illegal killings,” he said.

Dr Wekesa was speaking at Ol Pejeta after receiving four of the world’s last known remaining eight northern white rhinos. They were relocated from the Czech republic.

This is just the beginning. More strategies and counter-strategies will emerge in the weeks before the Doha conference. We will be here to bring you the story as it unfolds.

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5 comments on “Guns Drawn as CITES Meeting Nears

  1. Rebecca, Australia on said:

    Thanks for the info. I am disappointed about Tanzania’s stance.
    I chose Tanzania as my first African destination and will be visiting next year. This will be in the back of my mind whilst there, sadly.

    Never ceases to amaze me why some people think animals are “worth more” when dead, than alive.

  2. Samuel — Is there anything we can do to help? Will there be any kind of public campaign leading up to the meeting?

  3. Thank you for keeping us in the picture during the next month ahead, this will be a make or break meeting for elephants in Africa according to many but there are other views out there and they will point out the lack of “concrete” evidence linking the increase in poaching and the last sell off. Then it will be the stand from some about the natural death of elephants that does occur and its ivory left behind and what can be done for “conservation and wild life protection” with all the money generated with a sell of the stock pile across southern Africa. Still facts remain about the new found wealth in mainly China and the Far East and what this have meant for the upsurge in demand! There has been enough ivory haul in the ports of Ease Asia the last few years to back this up. Decisions taken in March will be notable not just in 2010 but for decades to come and I pray the right one will be made! Thank you Kenya for leading the fight for a total ban..

  4. Jim from Mass USA on said:

    Paula,
    I just gave USD$ 100+20 for whatever you see fit. I did not get a little box when donating to send a note. It will come through from James G. on 31 Dec, I hope.
    The ivory trade just must stop, period! I can’t bear to see another picture of one of God’s creatures hacked up with a chainsaw.
    Some how, some way, a chorus must rise that says STOP NOW!
    ~Jim

  5. Jim from Mass USA on said:

    How about massive world-wide tweetups to protest poisoning and ivory trade? We must find a way to engage the world in a chorus to get undivided attention! Isn’t this what Dr. Leakey conceived in his virtural world? Millions need to scream bloody murder!

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