Bangkok, Thailand—A Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) today approved an important document submitted by the Government of Kenya to strengthen the enforcement of many vital provisions and resolutions of the Convention.
"The Species Survival Network and its more than 80 member organizations firmly believe that illegal wildlife trafficking, which can have a devastating impact on wild animal populations, should be given significantly greater attention at the highest levels of government," confirmed Adam Roberts, Executive Director of the Animal Welfare Institute, who attended the expert working group meeting on wildlife law enforcement in February 2004, from which many of the recommendations in this proposal originated. "Be it elephant ivory, tiger bone, or bear gall bladders, the wildlife trade second in global profitability only to the illegal drugs trade must be addressed at the highest levels of government and international law enforcement."
The Kenyan proposal, which received broad support, should have little trouble gaining final CITES approval next week. Among its important recommendations, the proposal calls on CITES Parties to work together within their regions to coordinate the serious work of wildlife law enforcement agencies and provide funds, as a matter of urgency, to ensure appropriate levels of wildlife law enforcement training, particularly in developing countries.
Rosalind Reeve, CITES delegate from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and author of Policing International Trade in Endangered Species, expressed delight that "CITES has at long last sent a clear message to the global community that it's serious about enforcement and will not tolerate the ruthless, organized crime syndicates that greedily traffic in wildlife." The proposal encourages governments to create and implement national plans of action to ensure strict enforcement of the Convention. "CITES Parties must now translate the document's words in to action."
Steve Galster, Director of WildAid's Thailand office, acknowledged the host government for helping promote the issue of regional wildlife law enforcement: "The speech by our Prime Minister opening the CITES meeting called on Parties to expand regional law enforcement capabilities, and I trust that his plea helped garner support for the decision approved today."