of the media only;
not an official document.
propose new CITES trade rules for dozens of wildlife species
May 2004, Geneva – The Secretariat of the Convention on International
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has
received over 50 proposals
from its member governments to adjust the rules governing the international
trade in various wildlife species.
The proposals offer detailed arguments on how to improve the conservation
and sustainable use of the African elephant, the minke whale, the
great white shark, various tropical birds, trees and orchids, numerous
turtle species, the southern white rhinoceros, two species of crocodile,
the bald eagle, several medicinal plants and many other species.
Governments will accept, reject or adjust these proposals for
amending the CITES Appendices
at a conference in Bangkok from 2 – 14 October. These Appendices
list species that are at risk and whose import and export is controlled
through a permit system (Appendix II) and species that are already
endangered and that may not be commercially traded (Appendix I).
The African elephant is a regular feature of the CITES agenda.
Following a 1989 ban on the international ivory trade, CITES permitted
some one-off sales in 1997 and again in 2002. The 2002 sales from
Botswana (20 tonnes), Namibia (10 tonnes) and South Africa (30 tonnes)
have not yet occurred pending the establishment of baseline data
on poaching and populations.
Namibia has now submitted a proposal for an annual export quota
of two tonnes of ivory. Both Namibia and South Africa are proposing
to trade elephant leather commercially in addition to ivory.
Japan is recommending that three populations of minke whale be
transferred from Appendix I to Appendix II. CITES currently forbids
any international trade in whale products. Madagascar and Australia
propose adding the great white shark to Appendix II. No sharks were
included in Appendix II until two years ago, when the whale shark
and the basking shark were added.
Marine and freshwater turtles and land tortoises are under various
degrees of threat around the world, and many are already listed
in the CITES Appendices. Six additional species are now proposed
for inclusion in Appendix II. They are the soft-shelled pig-nosed
turtle, McCord’s snake-necked turtle, the Malayan flat-shelled
turtle, the Malayan snail-eating turtle, the Asian soft-shelled
turtle and the flyriver turtle. In addition, the Malagasy spider
tortoise is being proposed for Appendix I.
Sea animals on the agenda in Bangkok will include the humphead
wrasse (a large and valuable reef fish occurring in the Indo-Pacific),
south-east Asia’s Irrawaddy dolphin and the Mediterranean
date mussel. Birds will include the yellow-crested cockatoo, the
lilac-crowned parrot, the peach-faced lovebird and the painted bunting.
One of the new proposals recommends transferring the African lion
from Appendix II to Appendix I. Other proposals call for easing
the trade restrictions on the bald eagle and the southern white
rhinoceros and introducing the permit system. The US proposes removing
the bobcat, now on Appendix II, from the CITES regime.
Three proposals concern crocodiles. Cuba proposes to transfer
the Cuban crocodile from Appendix I to Appendix II. Namibia would
like to do the same for its national population of the Nile crocodile.
Zambia, whose population of the Nile crocodile is already listed
on Appendix II, is now requesting an annual export quota of no more
than 548 wild specimens.
Madagascar proposes adding the leaf-necked geckos and the coloured
serpent – considered the country’s most spectacular
snake – to CITES via Appendix II. Kenya proposes the same
listing for two species of viper.
The plant proposals would introduce Appendix II permit requirements
for Asia’s commercially valuable agarwood and ramin trees
plus a number of Asian trees belonging to the Taxus genus. Also
on the agenda are an orchid from Colombia and a cactus from southern
The CITES Secretariat will now review and analyse all of the proposals
it has received. It will publish its preliminary technical and scientific
assessment of the proposals together with its preliminary recommendations
in early June.
Thousands of species around the world are endangered as a result
of human activities such as habitat destruction, poaching, over-harvesting,
and pollution. CITES was adopted in 1973 to address the threat posed
by just one of these activities: unsustainable international trade.
To date, some 166 countries have become Parties to the treaty, making
it one of the world's most important agreements on species conservation
and non-detrimental use of wildlife.
Even after commercial fishing and the timber industry are set
aside, the international trade in wildlife is big business, estimated
to be worth billions of dollars annually and to involve more than
350 million plant and animal specimens every year. Unregulated international
trade can push threatened and endangered species over the brink,
especially when combined with habitat loss and other pressures.
CITES accords varying degrees of protection to some 30,000 plant
and animal species depending
on their biological status and the impact that international trade
may have upon them. Appendix I contains fewer than 600 animal species
and a little more than 300 plant species, whereas Appendix II covers
over 4,100 animal species and 28,000 plant species – seven
times as many animal species and ninety times more plant species.
Appendix III, which includes species that are protected within the
borders of a member country, lists over 290 species.
Note to journalists: The proposals can be viewed at here.
For more information, contact Juan-Carlos Vasquez at +41-22-917-8156
or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Michael Williams at +41-79-409-1528
(cell), +41-22-917-8242 (office), or email@example.com.
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