CITES COP2018: New trade rules for elephants, rhinos dominate

Mazino Dickson

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Delegates from around the world have gathered in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss whether allowing limited trade in elephant tusks and rhinoceros horn could help to protect these species.

The meeting brings together the 183 countries that signed on to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a 1973 pact that places curbs and bans on the cross-border sale of some 5,000 animal and 30,000 plant species.

Several countries in Africa – particularly from Southern Africa – have backed proposals to end the ban on ivory and rhino horn exports, arguing these animal populations have become large enough to warrant such rule changes.

Nigeria is fully represented by Prof. Aliyu Jauro, Director-General of the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).

 

Money matters

One issue that has dominated proceedings in Geneva is income generation from hunting.

Some have argued that local communities need income from limited hunting and trophy trade, to guarantee that local people back animal conservation efforts.

During the opening ceremony, CITES’ Secretary-General, Ivonne Higuero told the 3,000 delegates in Geneva that the contribution of conservation and legal wildlife trade to sustainable development is evident.

“Tourism is a part of the solution, but we also need to find other solutions related to legal trade in order to make the right investments and develop sustainable industries,’’ Higuero said.

Anti-poaching scorecard

There have been persistent worries by environmentalists and conservationists that poaching of species such as elephants and rhinos put the biodiversity of the planet in danger – in other words, specie extinction looms.

But the DG of Higuero gave a positive feedback.

Data is showing that the significant and persistent efforts of Parties to address poaching and illegal trade are now showing measurable effects,” she told delegates.

Available information also shows that, since 2014, there has been an annual increase in the weight of rhinoceros horn seized per rhinoceros poached. This suggests that enforcements efforts have increased and become more effective.”

Activities

Delegates will consider a proposal to regulate the sale of woolly mammoth tusks, which have been the source of concern due to their similarity to ivory.

Also an exclusive premiere of Sea of Shadows a Sundance-winning documentary from National Geographic, and produced by Oscar-award winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio will be shown on Sunday.

The production focuses on fight to save the vaquita, the most endangered whale, being wiped out due to bycatch in illegal harvesting of totoaba.

SEE PREVIEW BELOW:

 

The conference ends on August 28.