AWI Quarterly

Coulston on the Ropes Again

 

The Coulston Foundation (TCF) continually allows the grossly negligent deaths and inhumane treatment of chimpanzees for whom it is responsible. Now TCF is facing a new set of problems from the Food and Drug Administration for violations of Good Laboratory Practice (GLPs) regulations.

GLPs are in place to regulate experiments "to assure the quality and integrity" of the laboratory practices for research involving "food and color additives, animal food additives, human and animal drugs, medical devices for human use, biological products, and electronic products." Just as TCF repeatedly has violated the Animal Welfare Act, now it has been cited for nearly 300 violations of GLPs.

Infractions from the FDA inspection report include:

…not all studies had an approved written protocol that clearly indicated the objectives and all methods for the conduct of the study.

There is no assurance that all the surgical procedures were approved….

The identity of a study animal on a [xxx] report dated [xxx] was corrected from [xxx] using a scrap piece of paper. {[xxx] indicates redacted, or blacked out, information}

Temperature monitoring records are incomplete….Humidity is not monitored during the entire study.

The animals were fasted the day prior to any study activity. There was study activity daily for the first [xxx] days of the study, and weekly thereafter. The animals experienced decreased appetite and diarrhea. No animals were taken off the study for health reasons.

A certified "warning" letter from the Department of Health and Human Services to Dr. Frederick Coulston, TCF's CEO and Chairman of the Board, concludes that the conditions at his facility "are serious violations of the GLP regulations," and warns that the results of future studies at TCF would be considered "seriously flawed" if these deficiencies are not corrected.

An Unbearable Trade

 

The trade in bear gallbladders and bile continues to put pressure on endangered bear populations across the globe. All bear species are listed under the Convention's Appendices, but different CITES Parties have different regulations regarding the bear parts trade. The CITES Secretariat's document for consideration at COP 11 warns that "Differences in national, federal, state or provincial laws allow for confusion and enforcement difficulties; for example, where trade in bear gall bladders is permitted on a domestic market but import or export is banned." Since bear parts such as the gallbladder are visually indistinguishable, allowing some legal trade in some bear species' parts makes strict enforcement of CITES and national bear protection legislation difficult.

The Parties to CITES attempted to address some of the complicating factors in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1997 where they unanimously resolved "that the continued illegal trade in parts and derivatives of bear species undermines the effectiveness of the Convention" and that "poaching may cause declines of wild bears that could lead to the extirpation of certain populations or even species." Parties were urged "to take immediate action in order to demonstrably reduce the illegal trade in bear parts and derivatives" by, among other actions, "confirming, adopting or improving their national legislation to control the import and export of bear parts and derivatives." Unfortunately, it seems that few countries, including the U.S., have complied.

A global moratorium on the international trade in bear viscera would help individual CITES Parties protect their resident bears from poaching and smuggling of their parts. Pending legislation in the U.S. Congress, the Bear Protection Act, should be passed and used as a model for the rest of the world.

 

Call the Fashion Police

COP 11, CITES, Nairobi, Kenya, April 10 20, 2000

 

Call the Fashion Police

Thoughtless western demand for "shahtoosh," the luxurious fabric made from the fine wool of Tibetan antelopes called chiru and woven into expensive shawls, continues to threaten the survival of the species (see AWI Quarterly, Winter 1998).

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tries to crack down on illegal shahtoosh commercialization in America, some of the wealthy buyers show ignorance, others resentment. Discussing potential confiscations in a November 1999 Vanity Fair story, "O.K. Lady, Drop the Shawl," one New York socialite is quoted saying "'I'm an animal-lover. I don't want to do anything illegal. I feel duped.'" Publicist Peggy Siegal hyperbolically expressed fear of the "closet police," coming into homes and removing shahtoosh garments. Apparently, at a dinner party with New York Governor George Pataki, one Middle Eastern princess exclaimed, "'there are no endangered species. This shahtoosh thing is all fiction of the animal rights fanatics.'"

Fighting to save clearly endangered Tibetan antelopes throughout their range, especially in China, is an enormous and dangerous endeavor. Chinese authorities are waging war against poachers and appear to be aggressively targeting the well-armed bandits who increase chiru kills in order to increase the size of their bank accounts.

A May 13, 1999 report from the Environment News Service highlights the crackdown as one poacher was killed and two were wounded in a shootout with wildlife law enforcement agents that resulted in 42 arrests and "the confiscation of more than 1,000 pieces of Tibetan Antelope skin."

China Daily reports that the Chinese State Forestry Administration (SFA) "have smashed 17 rings of poachers and apprehended 66 members." It has also confiscated "a total of 1,685 Tibetan antelope skins and 545 heads." On May 26, the SFA, in coordination with provincial government representatives, destroyed many of the confiscated items in a huge bonfire. Speaking at the awareness-raising burning, Zhang Jianlong, director of SFA's department of wild fauna and flora conservation, noted the role that market demand has on driving the trade: "It is a few rich people from these countries, who are blinded by fashion, that are buying cashmere products made from Tibetan antelope hides."

To enhance the global effort to protect the chiru and end the trade in shahtoosh, an international workshop was held from October 12 to 14, 1999 in Xining, China. The Governments of China, France, India, Italy, Nepal, the United Kingdom and the United States were represented along with representatives from various non-governmental organizations.

The consensus statement that came out of the meeting, the "Xining Declaration," recognizes that the consumer market for shahtoosh is one of "the fundamental reasons leading to the continued large-scale poaching of wild populations of Tibetan antelope;" and the participants agreed "that the total eradication of production of and markets for shahtoosh and its products is the key to the survival of the Tibetan antelope." To this end, delegates appealed for greater wildlife law enforcement in shahtoosh consumer countries and an expanded program of public awareness and education about the deadly conservation risks of buying shahtoosh. Manufacturing countries are urged to crack down on domestic processing plants and do more to shut down the internal trade and smuggling out of the countries.

But even after this Declaration was signed, antelope poaching for shahtoosh continues. China Daily reports on January 18, 2000 that four major poaching cases surfaced between December 1999 and January 2000 involving over 700 pelts. The Xinhua News Agency reports that an additional "828 Tibetan antelope furs were seized in Hoh Xil, a nature reserve in far western China, and two poachers were arrested" on February 19, 2000 during an anti-poaching drive. According to Ming Ruixi, an official from Forestry Police Bureau in Qinghai Province, the most important way to stop poaching is to root out the market for shahtoosh that clearly drives the trade. Citizens across the globe must be educated to the plight of the chiru and the devastating impact of purchasing shahtoosh.


In October 1999, the Tibetan Plateau Project (TPP) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) filed a joint "petition" with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to list the Tibetan antelope as an endangered species pursuant to provisions of the Endangered Species Act. A Tibetan antelope ESA listing would restrict the import, export, and interstate transport and commerce of shahtoosh within the U.S.

Implementation of CITES alone is inadequate for preventing the sale of shahtoosh products in the U.S., because the Convention only prohibits the trade (import and re-export) of shahtoosh (CITES 1975). Establishing the case that suspected shahtoosh smugglers are responsible for importing or conspiring to export shahtoosh products that may be in their possession is more difficult than meeting the ESA standard of proving that a suspect may have offered shahtoosh for sale in interstate or foreign commerce.

Kidnap and Violence Echoes the Plight of Orangutans

By Dave Currey, Environmental Investigation Agency

"We've been badly beaten and now we're with the police" was the opening line from Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigator Faith Doherty's call from the town of Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan on the Indonesian part of Borneo. This was the start of a three-day kidnap drama that involved logging company-hired thugs, corrupt senior police, helpful and supportive detectives, orangutans, diplomats and the destruction of one of the world's most famous and important National Parks Tanjung Puting.

EIA and Telapak Indonesia launched a campaign to stop the illegal logging in Tanjung Puting National Park last August. This swamp forest is home to wild and rehabilitated orangutans and has been made famous by the work of Biruté Galdikas. In the EIA/Telapak campaign report "The Final Cut" the names of companies and illegal sawmills were made public. At the top of the list came Tanjung Lingga, a company that EIA and Telapak had infiltrated undercover as businessmen in June 1999. This company is owned by a local timber baron, member of the Indonesian Parliament, Abdul Rasyid.

The campaign gained momentum with pressure building from the international community, disillusioned by Indonesia's forestry sector. Our campaign message: "If you can't stop illegal logging in Tanjung Puting, then Indonesia's forests have no future." A newly elected Government was sworn in at the end of October 1999, and the EIA/Telapak campaign was presented to some members of the Parliament.

The international donors to Indonesia are represented in the Consultative Group on Indonesia, bringing forestry issues to the fore. A seminar was organised by the Indonesian Co-ordinating Ministry of Finance and sponsored by the World Bank. The EIA/Telapak campaign video was to be presented by Ruwi, Telapak's Executive Director. Faith and Ruwi were in Tanjung Puting to update the information before the seminar.

Lured to the offices of logging company Tanjung Lingga, Faith and Ruwi were viciously beaten. "They wanted to kill Ruwi" explained Faith. Ruwi was punched to the ground and kicked in the head while Faith's finger was wrenched from its socket and finger ligaments and a tendon broken in a struggle with company officials. A gun was used to threaten them both. Police were called and Faith and Ruwi were taken to hospital, allowed a phone call, and then taken to the detectives' office for statements. They were to stay there under the protection of the detectives for the next two days.

The next morning, a more senior policeman, clearly in cahoots with the logging company, prevented their departure on a scheduled plane. The company unsuccessfully attempted to separate Ruwi from Faith and a hired mob of 50-80 men prevented their departure from the office. Intense action was going on behind the scenes. Telapak sought support in Jakarta through high-level government and military officials, and EIA kept in touch with UK Government officials and the White House. The press was asked to keep quiet during the siege because of fear of endangering Faith and Ruwi.

On Saturday January 22nd, following intense pressure from Jakarta and the personal intervention of the British Ambassador, both Ruwi and Faith were flown to the South Kalimantan city of Banjarmasin in a plane chartered by EIA and Telapak. They were warned that Tanjung Lingga thugs were on their way to Banjarmasin so another plane was chartered to fly them to Jakarta. A last minute attempt by Tanjung Lingga to "buy off" this plane to prevent their departure, failed.

The campaign presentation to the Government of Indonesia and international donors took place on January 26th. The problem of illegal logging under the control of timber barons has been emphasised by this incident. The area is out of control and until the central government can reinstate law and order there can be no hope for the forests, the people and the remarkable creatures so dependent on them.

The Government of Indonesia has promised to deal with illegal logging, but so far the logging continues in Tanjung Puting. The Park headquarters have been destroyed and rangers have evacuated the Park. The latest report is that the Head and Deputy Head of the Park have resigned.

It is difficult for this democratically elected government at a time of economic crisis and civil unrest, but it is vital that they act courageously to defeat the powerful interests destroying Indonesia's priceless forest heritage. This case in Tanjung Puting is complex and politically difficult, but it is clear what must be done. Efforts to investigate this timber baron's fiefdom have so far failed following coercion. But the Government has to follow up while the world is watching.

Tanjung Puting National Park must be saved from the illegal loggers. Please urge His Excellency, the Ambassador of Indonesia, to do everything in his power to stop the destruction.

His address is:

2020 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

For more information on the campaign contact EIA,
1330 New Hampshire Avenue
Apt 507
Washington D.C. 20036
Telephone: (202) 452 8661 or visit EIA's website.

The Three R's: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement

A Conference in Bologna

At the third annual meeting of the World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences that took place in Bologna, Italy from August 29 to September 2, 1999, Christine Stevens founder and president of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) was honored with the 1999 Henry Spira Award To Improve The Lot Of Laboratory Animals In Academic Institutions And Commercial Laboratories. AWI worked with the British Universities Federation of Animal Welfare led by Major C.W. Hume to bring about publication of "The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique," by Russell and Burch.

Throughout the conference, the theme of this book that started the whole movement to replace, reduce, or refine experiments on animals, was cited. Co-author, W.M.S. Russell of the University of Reading, UK, spoke to the assembled conference urging the entire body to energetic action. "The tie I am wearing is a gift from my friend Klaus Cussler, of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. It has about 100 tortoises on it, all moving slowly in the same direction. But one of them is saying, "GET A MOVE ON!" So that is my message to this Congress — let's get a move on and see how much we can do together to achieve the 3 R's revolution by the time we next meet in Boston in 2002."

Hugh Richardson of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre praised Russell and Burch's "Seminal book" and reported that "by the middle of the 1980s the Council of Europe had adopted a convention based on the three R's and that the EEC had passed a major new Directive….Directive 86/609 is binding on all the member states of the European Union which have now adopted their own legislation to meet or surpass the minimum standards it lays down. Representatives of the Member States meet regularly with the Commission to discuss ways of improving the application of the Directive in promoting the 3 R's throughout the European Union." For example, in February the European Commission approved three in vitro replacements for laboratory animals in toxicity tests: one to test corrosives, another to test photo toxicity, and the third a topical toxicity test. Toxicity tests are the most urgently needed for replacement of animals because they are generally extremely stressful and painful.

Valerie Stanley of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, known for her pioneering victories for animals in court cases, accepted the award for Mrs. Stevens and read her statement to the conference, as printed here:

"I am happy to accept this award on behalf of Christine Stevens. She has asked me to read her remarks:

"I wish to express my gratitude to this 3rd World Congress. I have long admired the work of European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) for its dedication, energy and commitment to find and implement tests that supplant the cruel methods of testing on animals that have been used for so many years.

"With all the resources the United States has, all of its wealth not only in terms of money, but in intelligence and innovation, in terms of finding and implementing non-animal tests, the United States cannot even begin to compare with the genuine strides and accomplishments of ECVAM and its allies such as the Multicenter Evaluation of In-Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC).

"In this regard, ECVAM and the American Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) are more than worlds apart geographically. In the United States, we seem more interested in stating that we are dedicated to finding non-animal methods than in actually producing and validating them. If pharmaceutical and household product manufacturers in the United States are really serious in pressing forward with the necessary research, why haven't we made breakthroughs that equal MEICs?"

But the U.S. is seriously behind the more enlightened research community in Europe. Our commitment to Henry Spira's great legacy in furthering elimination of unnecessary animal testing must not falter.

Ivory of the Sea?

 

Many conservationists argued that the downlisting of certain populations of African elephants to allow an "experimental" sale of ivory would set a dangerous precedent that CITES Parties would use to open up trade in other listed species. This blueprint has been followed in Cuba's proposal to downlist Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) from Appendix I to Appendix II to sell its stockpiled turtle shell to Japan in a one-time sale and to allow further annual sales of up to 500 sea turtles a year.

Allowing trade in sea turtle shells is as grievous an error as allowing trade in ivory. This is especially true when one acknowledges that sea turtles are shared wildlife with great ecotourism value for a number of nations. Although the proposal calls for downlisting the "Caribbean population of Hawksbill Turtles… inhabiting Cuban waters," there is clearly no definitive Cuban population of a migratory marine species such as turtles. For example, the species' distribution includes the waters of the Seychelles, a nation that burned two and a half tonnes of confiscated sea turtle shell in 1998 in a clear message of defiance toward those who would profit by killing these animals and selling their parts.

The IUCN considers Hawksbills to be "critically endangered."  Anne Meylan of the Florida Marine Research Institute and Marydele Donnelly of the IUCN / SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group, wrote in an article in Chelonian Conservation and Biology that "Of all the species of marine turtles, the hawksbill has endured the longest and most sustained history of exploitation," and that "individual populations from around the world will continue to disappear under the current regime of exploitation…" CITES Parties would send a very clear and exceedingly dangerous message to the world if they mistakenly open up trade in parts of "critically endangered" wildlife such as hawksbills

 

A Deadly Experiment Gone Wrong

"Thereafter, under experimental quotas for raw ivory not exceeding 25.3 tonnes (Botswana), 13.8 tonnes (Namibia) and 20 tonnes (Zimbabwe), raw ivory may be exported to Japan…"

— Annotation accompanying the 1997 downlisting of three African elephant populations

An "experiment" is generally defined as "any action or process undertaken to discover something not yet known." When the CITES Parties voted to open an "experimental" ivory trade from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe in 1997, the outcome was easily deduced. Before all African elephants were placed on CITES Appendix I and international commercial ivory trade was prohibited, the continent's elephants were decimated, from approximately 1.3 million to about 600,000. With the 1989 ban, populations stabilized, poaching dropped dramatically, and ivory smuggling routes and the global market all but dried up. After this remarkable success, CITES Parties turned back the clock on elephant conservation and took a giant risk with the protection of these majestic creatures.

However, there is an opportunity at COP 11 for Parties to make amends for their grievous error by voting for Kenya's and India's proposal to put all elephants back on Appendix I. As Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the United Nations

Environment Programme, told the Associated Press (AP), "If there was a total ban, it (poaching) would be easier to control."

In 1997, AWI and other organizations warned that reopening the ivory trade, even on limited basis, would cause barbaric elephant poaching to escalate. At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Nehemiah Rotich, Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), warned that the elephant poaching "holocaust is coming back again" and that he hasn't seen poaching of this magnitude in the last 10 years. A January 2000 KWS press release grimly notes: "In 1999, KWS seized over 2,000 kg of ivory from illegal dealers, this was four times the average for the previous 6 years." In a letter to European Union nations urging support for the uplisting proposal, Director Rotich added: "Elephant poaching for ivory has also increased five fold in our elephant stronghold, the Tsavo National Park where thirty percent of our elephants occur." New images of massacred elephants, brutally cut down by poachers' bullets and their faces sawed off for the coveted ivory, bring back horrific images from decades past.

But Kenya is not alone in bearing the painful burdens of the renewed ivory trade. In October 1999, a consultative meeting among African elephant range states (including the Asian elephant range state of India) was held in Amboseli, Kenya. The meeting's Proceedings note that most Parties reported "insignificant" elephant poaching in their countries when elephants were on Appendix I and that "there has been a notable increase in illegal hunting" since the 1997 downlisting. Congo, for instance, reported an "incredible upsurge in illegal killing of elephants," and Cameroon reported "seizures of large quantities [of ivory] confiscated from diplomats." In India, 222 poached elephant carcasses were discovered between 1997 and the 1999 consultative meeting. A majority of African elephant range states attending the consultative meeting supports the effort to put all elephants back on Appendix I.

Zimbabwe, which (with Namibia and Botswana) now proposes to expand its ivory exports further, has witnessed increased elephant poaching since the ban was relaxed.  Panafrican News Agency reported on December 8, 1999 that "Zimbabwean wildlife officials" suspected that poachers from Zambia "had killed more than 80 elephants in the country's game parks in 1999 alone."

So what happens to the ivory from these poached elephants? It's a worldwide free for all. In February 2000, Portuguese officials uncovered "around 375 pounds of ivory, including 24 elephant tusks and seven statues" allegedly smuggled from Angola (AP). On September 18, 1999 two tons of ivory was seized in Dubai Airport, "one of the largest ivory seizures since the ban on trade in ivory was implemented," according to KWS. The accompanying table, "REPORTED IVORY SEIZURES SINCE JUNE 1997" shows how this illegal activity has grown again. KWS Director Rotich contends that the traditional ivory smuggling routes have been reopened.

Without a market, all this ivory is worthless. Japan, a major lobbying force behind the evisceration of the ivory ban, is an enormous ivory market. Despite the overwhelming evidence of elephant poaching and ivory smuggling, Japan's CITES position on elephants leading to COP 11 is that the "experimental trade of ivory in 1999 did not create any problem."

There is a tremendous opportunity for illegal ivory smuggling into Japan and sale on the Japanese market, even with the new amendments to Japan's laws regarding domestic management of ivory. Once it gets into Japan and is carved into signature stamps called hankos it is almost impossible to ascertain whether the ivory is from the legal shipment authorized by CITES or from an illegally smuggled consignment. As Kenya's and India's proposal notes, "although certification seals are available for attachment to carvings 'recognised as having been produced from legally obtained tusks,' and there is a penalty for affixing a seal to a carving other than the one for which it was issued, it is neither mandatory for such seals to be affixed nor illegal to sell a carving without a seal. Thus, though the certification system can be used to identify a legal carving by a dealer wishing to do so, it would appear to be of little or no use in preventing the sale of illegally-acquired ivory on the Japanese retail market."

Since 1997, elephant poaching has increased substantially across Africa and illegal ivory seizures have occurred with greater frequency across the globe.  The ivory experiment has failed - again. We must restore the rational reverence for elephants embodied in the Appendix I listing of all African and Asian elephants and the complete ban on the global trade in elephant ivory.

KWS Director Rotich tells of an ecotourism group whose vehicle was held up for some time while a small herd of elephants crossed before them. When one wildlife watcher asked the guide why they were waiting so long the guide responded, because the elephants have the Right of Way. And so it should be.  

Chart on Reported Ivory Seizures Since June 1997

Political Spin

 

Political "Spin" and Wildlife Conservation
CITES 2000

By Adam M. Roberts

The Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) concluded in Nairobi, Kenya on April 20, 2000. The 151 nations that are signatories to the Convention considered over sixty proposals regarding levels of protection for wildlife threatened by consumption for international trade. Appendix I species are threatened with extinction and are or may be affected by international trade and are subject to a prohibition on international commercial trade; Appendix II species are not yet threatened with extinction but may be at risk without strict regulation of the legal international commercial trafficking in these species' parts and products made from them; Appendix III species are identified by individual Parties as subject to internal regulation to prevent over-exploitation. 

AWI's positions on these proposals were supported in over half the votes—clear victories; in about a third of the votes we clearly lost; and the remaining proposals were amended in some compromise fashion (for instance, not changing the species' status, but specifically disallowing trade in specimens, known as a "zero quota").

Did animal advocates or wildlife exploiters prevail overall at this CITES Meeting? It depends on whose reports you read. Politics and political debate in Washington, DC is often dominated by political "spin" when policy debates end, each side attempts to portray itself the victor in the press and to the public. 8,000 miles away from Washington in Nairobi, molded media messages bombarded the news on a daily basis as opposing forces claimed triumph on a host of issues.

In 1997, CITES Parties undermined the nearly decade-long ban on the global trade in elephant ivory by downlisting from Appendix I to Appendix II the elephant populations of Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe to allow sale of hunting trophies, live animals, hides and leather goods (for Zimbabwe), and a total of 59.1 tons of raw ivory to Japan.

Elephant poaching escalated once the ivory trade was reopened. Numerous reports circulated in Nairobi revealing the carnage. The Born Free Foundation's Stop the Clock Report analyzed elephant poaching and ivory confiscation data for a number of countries. While the CITES Secretariat's official figures claim "235 elephants poached" in 1998 and 1999, Born Free's analysis shows a conservative figure of 6,159 elephants poached in 1998 and 1999 26.2 times the "official" record. Considering potential for underreporting, Born Free estimates the actual kill may be up to five times higher.

But despite reported rampant poaching across Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe petitioned to open the ivory trade further to allow a combined 24 tons of ivory to be exported annually and for all three countries to trade in elephant hides, leather goods, trophies, and live animals. In addition, South Africa proposed to downlist its elephant population to allow 30 tons of ivory to be sold as well as other elephant parts and live animals.

Kenya and India, both facing an upsurge in elephant poaching since 1997 and desperately underfunded and understaffed in their anti-poaching efforts, proposed putting all elephants back on Appendix I and opposed South Africa's new weakening proposal.

"Consensus building" was a clear theme of the Meeting especially regarding African elephant range state opinions on the future of elephants and the trade in elephant ivory. Anticipation of an explosive debate evaporated when Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe all withdrew their proposals (thus leaving their elephants on Appendix II but not allowing further trade in ivory); Kenya withdrew its uplisting proposal; and South Africa's proposal, which was amended to remove the ivory sale, was adopted by consensus.

This is where the biggest media "spin" begins. If one reads pro-ivory trade organizations' literature, such as a press release from the International Wildlife Managers Consortium -World Conservation Trust (IWMC) the compromise was a "Win for Sustainable Conservation of Elephants and Patience of Southern African Nations." The President of this pro-use organization is actually Eugène Lapointe, former Secretary-General of CITES. But for us, the clear message is that the ivory experiment failed once more and bloody ivory is again illegal in international trade.

A disturbing element of the elephant debate (or ultimate lack thereof) was America's impotence. Historically a vocal opponent of the ivory trade, the U.S. voice was silent throughout. In fact, the "final" U.S. negotiating position on the elephant proposals was not final at all it was "pending." The U.S. would have opposed proposals that permitted any ivory trade but would have abstained on the proposal by Kenya and India to put elephants back on Appendix I.

In another example of political spin, when President Clinton issued a one-paragraph statement saying that the U.S. would oppose proposals "to reopen trade in elephant ivory," the IWMC's pro-use propaganda reported: "U.S. Congress, President Clash Over Elephants." Why this supposed "clash?" Six Members of Congress sent a letter to the head of the U.S. Delegation urging support for the expanded ivory sale. What's purposely excluded from this report is reference to other letters from the Legislative Branch to the same Head of Delegation urging opposition to the ivory trade and support for Kenya and India -- not one meager letter signed by six Congressmen, but 4 separate letters: one signed by Congressman George Miller, the Ranking Minority Member of the House Resources Committee, one signed by the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the House International Relations Committee, one signed by 20 Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and one signed by 25 Members of the United States Senate. The Senate letter concluded: "At this critical juncture, we believe it will take the full energy and commitment of the United States delegation to return to elephant populations the protections they still need." Unfortunately, the U.S. exerted little energy and displayed little commitment toward the legislators' laudable goal.

Shutting down the ivory trade again - even without U.S. help - was vital, but the tone of the dialogue makes it clear that the issue will resurface repeatedly. Over the next two years, much time, effort, and money will be devoted to establishing a monitoring system to examine illegal killing of elephants, and when the "system" appears to work, in all likelihood, legal ivory will flow again. The problems with this approach are too numerous to detail here, but in brief, the millions of dollars spent establishing this system would be better spent on anti-poaching efforts in elephant range states. Instead of monitoring elephant killing, why not try to stop elephant killing? There will never be a legal ivory trade that does not result in the illegal slaughter of elephants; machinations to find ways of facilitating such trade are a waste of time and resources that could be better focused on conserving wild, live elephants.

Clearer hard-fought victories came for whales and sea turtles. But reading the "spin" from the High North Alliance, a pro-whaling organization, one might think the whales were doomed: "A majority of government delegates to [CITES] today voted in support of Norway's proposal to open international trade in minke whale products." Although the vote was 53 in favor, 52 opposed, and 8 abstentions, CITES requires a 2/3 vote to approve a change in a species' status not a simple majority.

Three other whale downlisting proposals by Japan regarding gray and minke whales were all soundly rejected with the closest vote still having 18 more nations opposed than in favor far from even a simple majority. Together, Japan and Norway consistently try to weaken protection for these whale species and undermine the current moratorium on commercial whaling. There is no enforcement regime in place to control international trade in whale products and illegal whale meat recently has been found for sale in Japanese markets. Downlisting any of these whale populations would pose an enormous threat to all whale species.

Not surprisingly, each attempt to weaken whale protection at this CITES meeting was undertaken by a secret ballot. Nations advocating use of the secret ballot on controversial votes claim it is necessary to prevent retaliation from developed countries and conservation nongovernmental organizations that somehow if we know who votes for the whale downlisting we will try to eliminate their foreign aid. For instance, during the whale debates, a vociferous delegate from Antigua and Barbuda argued against the "strong-arm tactics of those countries who don't think we have a right to exploit our natural resources."

This conspiracy theory is all the more fascinating given that an article in the London Guardian Weekly from 18 November 1999 reports, "Japan has admitted for the first time that it is using its overseas aid budget to persuade developing countries to join the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and vote for a resumption of commercial whaling." The revealing article continues to note that IWC Secretary Ray Gambell alleged that "Japan was using the same tactics" at CITES.

The simple message from CITES is that the IWC has primacy in cetacean protection and that CITES should respect the IWC's ban on commercial whaling. Of course, Japan and Norway will continue their attempts to profit from slaughtered whales when the IWC meets in Adelaide, Australia this July.

Although elephants and whales dominated the debate, CITES Secretary General Willem Wijnstekers accurately noted in his opening statement "This meeting is not about elephants, it is also about elephants, it is not about whales, it is also about whales."

Strong rhetoric surrounded the dialogue on downlisting critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles from Appendix I to Appendix II to allow trade in stockpiled turtle shell from Cuba to Japan and establish an annual quota of not more than 500 specimens. A report from the Japan Wildlife Conservation Society asserts that "Reopening of international trade of "bekko" [tortoiseshell] will also increase the possibility of its smuggling by reactivating Japan's domestic market for it."

Even though this proposal claimed to be restricted to the "Cuban population" of hawksbills, there is no discrete Cuban population of this species. Imagine being a poor sea turtle who mistakenly swims through Cuban waters at the wrong time! Already the hawksbill has been subjected to an 80% worldwide population decline. Clearly, as with whales and other species, allowing the sale of sea turtle shell will encourage sea turtle poaching in other regions and illegal sale of those shells and products made from them.

The debate was filled with high emotions and not-so-subtle political jabs at the U.S. for its embargo on Cuba (an argument that to compensate for lost national revenue as a result of the embargo, Cuba should benefit financially from wildlife exploitation). Ultimately, the proposal was defeated, again by secret ballot.

In addition to preserving the protection for whales and sea turtles, notable increases in protection were given to the manatee-like Australian Dugong, the Horned and Uvea Parakeets of New Caledonia, China's Melodious Laughing Thrush, Asian Box Turtles, and Madagascar's Mantella Frogs.

Marine fish species did not quite fare as well. The Parties refused to list three species of sharks: great white sharks, whale sharks, and basking sharks. All three species have low reproductive rates and declining populations, and are killed for their fins and other body parts. Fins float in high-priced Asian "shark fin soup;" basking shark skin is made into leather goods; great white shark livers are used for medicines, and shark meat is sold for human consumption. Unfortunately, all three proposals were defeated on the grounds that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has competency over fisheries management. (The FAO has begun considering shark conservation and has developed an "International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks.")

CITES also considered over 50 resolutions and other documents and on many of these issues we had success. On the trade in bear specimens, the Parties again fell short of advocating a global moratorium on the trade in bear parts such as the gallbladders and bile that are used in traditional Asian medicines. However, it was recognized that the illegal trade in bear parts and derivatives has not been demonstrably reduced, a goal the Parties agreed upon in 1997. This year, the Parties agreed to continue seeking information about national legislation to control the illegal bear parts trade, to share forensic technology to help distinguish bear parts in trade, and to consider introducing measures to implement CITES with respect to the trade in bear parts and derivatives. The issue will be revisited again at the next CITES meeting.

For the first time the Parties have addressed the issue of "bushmeat," the consumption, and increasingly the cross-border sale, of wild animal flesh including elephants, primates such as gorillas, and other species. What was once an issue of local consumption has become a growing international crisis, fomented by unsympathetic logging companies. In an editorial in The Washington Post on April 8, 2000, Dr. Jane Goodall advocated the "simple, straightforward step" of forming "an official working group that would be charged with the development of ways to control the illegal trade in bushmeat." That is exactly what the Parties agreed to in Nairobi.

The Parties also agreed that immediate action is necessary to save the fewer than 75,000 remaining Tibetan antelope (chiru) from the trade in their wool known as "shahtoosh." It is estimated that western demand for this luxurious fabric leads to the illegal slaughter of between ten and twenty thousand chiru annually. At this rate, the species may be gone in just 5 years. The resolution approved by the Parties urges a number of actions including adoption of comprehensive legislation to eliminate the commercial trade in shahtoosh with adequate penalties to deter such illegal commerce. Just after the close of the Conference, the Jammu and Kashmir high court issued a judgment banning the shahtoosh trade in the Indian state of Kashmir. And, here in the U.S., the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the chiru under the Endangered Species Act. The Service has until October to make its final ruling.

Ultimately, CITES Parties made advancements on important issues of wildlife conservation. Stopping over-exploitation of wild species in international trade is an ongoing process. As we look toward and beyond the next Conference in Chile in 2002, the message to the world is: "no ivory, no whale meat, no sea turtle shell" and substantial protection for scores of other wild species. As always, the lingering question is: "but for how long?"

Top Photo, African Sunset by Adam Roberts

Second Photo, The bond of wild elephant families is incredibly strong.  Elephants, The Deciding Decade, that elephants seem to have "displayed compassion and awareness of death.  There are stories of elephants using leaves and grass to bury elephant and human remains, and shattering the tusks of dead elephants against trees or rocks."  Although CITES has reinstated the international prohibition in ivory commercialization, the elephants of South Africa, Botswana, Nambia and Zimbabwe may still be hunted as trophies, for meat and other non-ivory products, and sold live to zoos and circuses across the globe.  Continued vigilance is needed to save elephants for future generations. (Katy Payne)

Third Photo, A young elephant at Daphne Sheldrick's wildlife orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya.  Daphne and her committed corps of specialized animal handlers help rear young orphaned wildlife including elephants, rhinos, and zebras with the ultimate goal if reintroduction in the wild. (Adam M. Roberts/AWI)

Fourth Photo, Minke whale butchered on a Japanese whaling boat in the Antarctic. (WDCS/Mark Votier)

Fifth Photo, According to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, despite the 1986 IWC ban on commercial whaling, Japan and Norway kill over 1,000 minke whales each year. (Robert Pitman)

Sixth Photo, CITES Parties rejected Cuba's attempt to sell a stockpile of hawksbill turtle shells to the avid wildlife consuming nation of Japan. (Yves Berard/1997 Oceanographical Museum of Monaco)

Bottom Photo, A logging vehicle in Central Africa transports both hunters and their fresh kill for the bushmeat market.  Numerous species are involved in the trade including chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, elephants, duikers (as pictured) and other antelopes. (John Sidle)

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