of the media only;
not an official document.
Identifying the problem:
A new guide to help law enforcers check trade
in traditional Asian medicines
Santiago de Chile, 13 November 2002 - The CITES Secretariat,
TRAFFIC, and Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise in the United
Kingdom (HMCE) launched today the Traditional Asian Medicine
Identification Guide for Law Enforcers to help law enforcers
tackle problems such as inspecting shipments. At the 12th meeting
of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Santiago, the CITES
Secretariat is also announcing additional funding support for
the continued updating of the information contained in the Guide.
The first update will be available in approximately 18 months,
prior to CITES COP13.
“Although the guide cannot replace the need for an expert
in every case, it certainly can assist in flagging potential problem
shipments that may need more detailed inspection and allow other
shipments to be cleared more quickly,” said Crawford Allan,
one of the authors and TRAFFIC’s Global Enforcement Co-Ordinator.
Enforcement Officers inspecting shipments or domestic sales have
an unenviable task when checking for CITES-listed components.
Dried seeds, herbs and packets of traditional medicines may include
parts and derivatives of species regulated or prohibited in trade.
Typically these include tiger bone, rhino horn, bear bile or musk.
How enforcers determine whether these are regulated items that
may require CITES papers remains a perennial challenge.
“I hope this guide will help enforcers learn some identification
skills and make the inspection process easier,” said Charles
Mackay, head of HM Customs and Excise CITES Team at Heathrow Airport.
“Ultimately, this will improve detection of illegal shipments
containing endangered species utilised in traditional Asian medicines.”
With the Traditional Asian Medicine Identification Guide for
Law Enforcers, officers now have access to 430 full colour images
of Traditional Asian medicines that claim to contain species that
are controlled in international trade. Available in searchable
CD-ROM and print copies, each medicine ‘profile’ includes
a written description explaining the alleged contents of the medicine.
The medicines are indexed by key identifiers that are easy to
recognise by the law enforcers. There is also an explanation of
how to ‘read’ the packaging and identify controlled
species from the ingredients list.
In hard-copy form, the guide is loose-leaf (170 pages) –
allowing for easier revision, addition of the enforcer’s
own notes, and photocopying for wider and cheaper distribution.
The main audience for the guide is law enforcers based in countries
outside of Asia who may have to deal with inspecting imports or
domestic sale of traditional Asian medicines. The guide is available
only in English, however the format allows for easy translation
into other languages for greater utility.
UK Environment Minister, Elliott Morley will launch the CD-guide
at a reception by the UK Department for Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs (Defra) in Santiago today. The Chief of the Capacity
Building Unit of the CITES Secretariat Stephen Nash noted: “Identification
manuals like this are vital in efforts to support the tremendous
challenges law enforcers working on wildlife trade are up against.
We look forward to continuing working together with the partners
in order to provide an update of the current manual in the near
There will be a global co-operative initiative to update the
Guide, and CITES is calling upon enforcement officers or anyone
with copies of packaged medicines containing CITES-listed species
to send them for inclusion in a revised version of the manual
Tel: 56-2-6337256 (in Santiago, Chile)
Charles Mackay, Senior Officer, CITES Team
56-9-6057238 (cell phone in Santiago, Chile)
Shoreham Road East
London TW6 3RD
The CDs are available free of charge for law enforcers upon request
from the CITES Secretariat:
Ger van Vliet
Capacity Building Unit
International Environment House
Chemin des Anémones
CH-1219 Châtelaine, Geneva
Tel: (+4122) 917-8139/40
Fax: (+4122) 797-3417
The Guide was generously supported by WWF-UK, the UK Partnership
for Action Against Wildlife Crime and Taiwan Council of Agriculture.
For further information, please contact:
Maija Sirola, Communications Co-Ordinator, tel. 9 605 6655 (in
Crawford Allan, Global Enforcement Co-Ordinator, tel. 9 605 6800
(in Santiago, Chile)
HM Customs and Excise, Charles Mackay
CITES Secretariat, tel. 09-443-4045.
To read previous press releases, go to Archives.