For use of the media only;
not an official document.
CITES investigation leads to confiscation
of illegally traded gorillas
11 October 2002 - Following an investigation prompted by the Secretariat
of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),
the Government of Malaysia has announced that it will confiscate
four young gorillas imported into the country earlier this year.
The investigation found that the gorillas were not born in a Nigerian
zoo as claimed, but instead had been captured in the wild in Nigeria
or, more likely, in a neighbouring country. The commercial trade
in all wild gorillas is strictly forbidden under CITES.
"Gorillas are so highly endangered that every criminal transaction
such as the one uncovered here can have an impact on their future,"
said CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers. "The laws
are in place - we must now rely on all governments to tighten their
enforcement controls and do everything in their power to stamp out
illegal wildlife trade."
The gorillas were imported into Malaysia from Nigeria by the Taiping
Zoo on the basis of falsified documents. The CITES Secretariat took
action after receiving information from several sources questioning
whether the claim that the animals had been born in captivity was
true. While the investigation continues, it has been firmly established
that the gorillas were traded illegally and in violation of the
The Secretariat will issue an alert to all national CITES management
authorities as well as Interpol and the World Customs Organization
to help enforcement officials better target such activities. The
confiscated gorillas will be sent to a breeding centre or a zoo
in a third country still to be determined.
Illegal wildlife trade continues to pose a major threat to the
survival of many highly endangered plants and animals. The 160 member
Governments of CITES will discuss how to enforce trade bans on rhinoceroses,
the tiger, the Tibetan antelope and other species more effectively
when they meet for a major conference in Santiago, Chile from 3
to 15 November.
For further information, please contact: John Sellar, CITES Senior
Enforcement Officer, +41-22-917-8293, firstname.lastname@example.org; Juan
Carlos Vasquez, CITES Media Officer, +41-22-917-8156, email@example.com,
or Michael Williams, UNEP Press Officer, +41-22-917-8282, +41-79-409-1528
(cell), or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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