CITES Standing Committee Meets to Discuss Wildlife Trade

In July, AWI’s wildlife biologist, D.J. Schubert, attended the 65th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Standing Committee in Geneva, Switzerland. Over the course of the week-long meeting, D.J. advised delegates, collaborated with other organizations, and represented AWI on several intersessional working groups, including those on elephants, rhinos, and pangolins.

Among its key decisions: The committee found that seven countries, including Kenya, Uganda, and the Philippines, had made progress in improving their ivory trade enforcement efforts, while Thailand was warned that it faces trade sanctions if its efforts are not improved by August 2015. Several additional countries, including Angola, Mozambique, and Cambodia, were asked to prepare ivory action plans, given their role in the illicit ivory trade. Mozambique was also tasked with preparing a plan to address its role in the cross-border poaching of rhinos in South Africa.

China, Thailand, Vietnam and other Asian countries were tasked with reducing the illegal trade in tigers and other Asian big cats, with related decisions made on regulating captive breeding of tigers. Efforts to remedy the escalating trade in cheetahs and a virtually unregulated trade in pangolins were delegated to working groups for urgent consideration, with India calling for the uplisting of all pangolin species to Appendix I to prohibit all commercial trade.

Unfortunately, prior to the meeting, the secretariat, after consulting with the chair of the Standing Committee, notified Solomon Islands that its bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) population had been removed from a CITES process used to assess the legality of trade in Appendix II species. This could trigger a resumption in dolphin capture and exports—which have been banned by the country since January 2012—to the detriment of the country’s remaining dolphin populations. The United States, Israel, and Mexico joined AWI in expressing concerns about removing this species from the review and called on the secretariat to remind Solomon Islands of its CITES obligations should it resume trade in live dolphins.

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