Recent trade of elephants from Zimbabwe to China

Public statement of the CITES Secretariat
 
The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has received copies of various news articles as well as other communications by private individuals and special interest groups concerning the trade in live elephants from Zimbabwe to public zoos in China during which an elephant is reported to have died. 
The Secretariat is issuing this public statement to explain the application of CITES to this trade to help interested individuals understand the relevant procedures.
 
Both Zimbabwe and China are longstanding Parties to CITES.
 
All permits and certificates for trade under CITES are issued and accepted by the designated national CITES authorities of the 177 States Parties (countries) to CITES. Such trade is, in turn, reported by those Parties on an annual basis to the CITES Secretariat and included in the CITES Trade Database. Reviews of the sustainability of significant trade in Appendix II species are conducted through the relevant CITES scientific committees with the support of the Secretariat. The CITES Secretariat does not issue any CITES permits or certificates, and has no authority to directly intervene in CITES trade transactions.
 
The population of Loxodonta africana (African elephant) of Zimbabwe is included in Appendix II of CITES, following a decision taken in 1997 by the Conference of the Parties to CITES. This means that the Parties to CITES consider the population as not now being threatened with extinction. As such, international commercial (and non commercial) trade in certain specimens of African elephants from Zimbabwe (including live animals) is allowed if specified conditions contained in relevant provisions of the Convention are followed, particularly those of Article IV of the Convention.
 
There is an annotation to the Appendix II listing of Zimbabwe's African elephant population that specifically provides for "trade in live animals to appropriate and acceptable destinations". “Appropriate and acceptable destinations” is defined in Resolution Conf. 11.20 of the Conference of the PartIes to CITES.
 
According to Article IV of the Convention,  the CITES Management Authority of Zimbabwe shall only grant an export permit when it is satisfied that the elephants were obtained in accordance with national law, the CITES Scientific Authority of Zimbabwe has advised that their export will not be detrimental to the survival of that species and the CITES Management Authority of Zimbabwe is satisfied that any living specimen will be so prepared and shipped as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment.
 
It is recommended in Resolution Conf. 10.21 (Rev. CoP14) on Transport of live specimens, that the Live Animal Regulations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) be deemed to meet CITES air transport requirements.
 
The Secretariat has corresponded with the CITES Management Authorities of Zimbabwe and China to ascertain the particular circumstances surrounding this trade and whether the procedures set out under Article IV of the Convention and Resolutions Conf. 10.21 and 11.20 were followed. This communication with the relevant Management Authorities is ongoing.
 
CITES Secretariat
11 January 2013