EIA forest and wildlife campaigners will be in Geneva on Monday for the week-long 66th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
The Standing Committee provides policy guidance to the CITES Secretariat as well as coordinating and overseeing, where required, the work of other committees and working groups. It also carries out tasks given to it by the Conference of the Parties (CoP), such as reviewing progress on National Ivory Action Plans, and drafts resolutions for consideration by the CoP, the next meeting of which takes place later this year in South Africa.
EIA has several points of focus at SC66:
The controversial ‘Decision-making mechanism for a process of trade in ivory’ remains on the CITES table and EIA will be working in support of a proposal to seek its suspension.
EIA maintains that any trade in ivory serves only to confuse consumers, stimulate new demand, provide a screen behind which to launder poached ivory and in turn drive further poaching.
At a side-event, EIA will also show a rough-cut of its new film designed to assist enforcement agencies to combat elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade.
Representatives from EIA’s Forest Campaign will be releasing the new briefing The Hongmu Challenge, outlining how booming demand for reproduction antique furniture – primarily in China but also in Vietnam – is driving rare and endangered rosewood species to extinction throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The style of furniture is known as Hongmu and principally targets 33 tree species within the Pterocarpus, Diospyros, Dalbergia, Millettia and Cassia genera (only seven of which are currently protected under CITES) and soaring demand saw sales in China’s Hongmu sector exceeded $25 billion in 2014.
The briefing calls on the CITES Secretariat, Member States and Parties to support moves to protect Hongmu through additional listings of threatened species and enforcement against illegal trade in rosewood species already included in the CITES appendices.
The plight of the vaquita porpoise, believed to number fewer than 100, and the protected totoaba fish in the Gulf of California is the subject of the new report Dual Extinction, being released by EIA’s Oceans Campaign at SC66.
The dried swim bladder of the endangered totoaba is highly prized in China for its supposed (but unproven) medicinal properties and the gill nets used by fishermen to catch it illegal are also snaring the last of the vaquita.
The report will be highlighted during a side event at SC66 and calls on Parties to CITES to adopt and swiftly implement measures to effectively combat the totoaba trade and so protect both threatened marine species from extinction.
TIGERS & OTHER ASIAN BIG CATS
EIA was part of the CITES Asian Big Cat Working Group chaired by China and is deeply concerned over the politicking used to avoid directly addressing the problem of captive tigers and ‘tiger farms’, which bleed skins, bones and products such as tiger bone wine into the marketplace and so stimulate demand, increasing pressure on the estimated 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild.
Campaigners will be pushing for the Standing Committee to make rulings on the issue of captive tigers based on International Union for Conservation of Nature research presented to the last meeting in 2014 and not procrastinate with further delays for additional studies.
A fold-out poster has been created by EIA to give an introduction to the key facts and figures of the captive tiger issue.