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CITES – it’s time to fix the basics

During the time addressing the domestic trade in Australia in relation to elephant ivory and rhino horn, For the Love of Wildlife and Nature Needs More have become very concerned about the existing CITES trade permit and monitoring system. In addition, the evidence presented at the Parliamentary Inquiry into the unregulated domestic trade last year in Australia provided a platform for further shocking information to be exposed.

Attached is a letter that we sent to the Mr David Morgan in September 2018 as a result of what has been revealed, knowing we can no longer remain silent and action must be taken. At the time David Morgan was performing the administrative duties of the CITES Secretary General and we decided not to wait for the new CITES’ Secretary General to be appointed, due to there being no indication of how long this would take and it was appearing to drag out.

With the reverse listing and levy approach we are asking CITES signatories to consider before CoP18 as we feel that this offers a potential solution to fixing the significant problems and loopholes in the current legal trade system that is enabling illegal items to be laundered into the legal market place.

Please note, in sending this letter, this does not mean that we endorse the sustainable use model and the fact that a trade body is the key facilitator of managing the world’s precious flora and fauna. In sending this letter we acknowledge that this trade based approach will not be changed to a conservation focused approach in the short-term. As such, what we have currently needs to evolve to implement trade and control systems that are transparent, tamper-proof, appropriately resourced and fit-for-purpose.

In introducing this proposal to your local politician (wherever you are in the world) may we offer the following as a foundation for your email to assist in gaining their full attention. If you wish to do more, then please follow up with a meeting and share what you know in educating them in knowing the critical demise of the world’s majestic and iconic species. If you are not knocking on your local MP’s door, then their attention will be with the people who are! Wildlife requires action and please do not feel intimidated by a meeting – your local MP is there to represent YOU and your concerns.

You can also send the information to your local paper – MP’s respond to local news.

Thank you, on behalf of the animals and the natural world who need you now.

 

Dear ….

The last 18 months has seen an increased global focus on wildlife crime, as new estimates regarding the massive scale of illegal trafficking were published in the World Customs Organisation 2017 Illicit Trade Report. This report highlighted the estimated profit from the illegal trade in flora and fauna to be between $91- 258 billion USD per year, and stated, this is an amount that is, according to the United Nations Environment Programme, growing at 2-3 times the pace of the global economy. The report concluded, environmental crime is now the fourth largest transnational crime, after drug trafficking, counterfeiting and people trafficking. International organized crime uses the systemic loopholes in the legal trade system which is regulated by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In addition to the illegal trade, in 2012 a UK government paper highlighted the value of the legal trade in flora and fauna to be $320 billion USD per year.

In addition to systemic loopholes, CITES now lists more than 35,000 species for trade restrictions, making identification and enforcement an impossible task for national law enforcement and customs bodies. Within the CITES framework the only solution to this escalating problem is to change the listing regime to default to a ‘reverse listing’ mode, i.e. listing only species in which trade is permitted. This is not a new idea, in fact it was first put forward by Australia in 1981 to the CITES Conference of Parties in New Dehli. At the time only 700 species were listed for trade restrictions and it was perhaps unsurprising that the proposal failed to garner sufficient support.

Set up as a non-self-executing treaty, CITES today lacks the funding to help poorer countries to implement effective electronic permitting systems that are integrated with global customs systems, which is essential to close the loopholes exploited by the traffickers. We propose that a small trade levy on the $320 billion USD per year trade conducted legally under CITES rules could help raise the necessary funds and make the overall system tamper-proof, traceable and transparent.

Only national governments (and the EU), which are signatories to CITES, can propose the necessary changes to fix the flaws in the current system and strike decisively against the illegal trade. Attached to this email is a copy of a letter sent to the CITES Secretariat in September 2018. As we are one of the 183 signatory parties, I request that the reverse listing approach proposed be considered by our government in the run-up to and as part of the agenda of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18) in Sri Lanka in May 2019.

Yours sincerely

 

…………………………………………………..

Open Letter regarding CITES Issues

(include the above link in your email)

We’d love to know which countries are active, so please let us know as we’d love to keep a track of how many people are getting on board. Also feel free to email Peter Lanius of Nature Needs More if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

 

Australia…No Domestic Trade!

Despite what many Australians might believe, elephant ivory and rhino horn is sold in Australia.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) released their “Under the Hammer” report, exposing how much ivory and rhino horn is being sold through auction rooms.

The report identified that only 2.7 per cent of items inspected at Australian auction rooms had ‘provenance’ documentation which provides the most useful information to determine the origin and legality of an item.

Items for sale in Chapel Street, Melbourne.

At least three rhinos are brutally slaughtered daily and one elephant is killed every 15 minutes. The South African government released rhino poaching statistics for 2016, reporting 1,054 rhinos has been killed.

A privately funded Great Elephant Census states that African elephant populations have declined by 30 per cent over the last seven years.

The Chinese Government announced it will close its ivory market by the end of 2017 and it’s time Australia does too.

Print out the Speak Out Letter and post to the Minister. Details are on the letter and you don’t have to be living in Australia.

In September 2016 the Australian Government was asked to enact a total ban on the domestic trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn in a communiqué that was hand delivered to Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg.

Signed by over 50 conservation organisations from around the world, the ban would be a move to ensure Australia commits to playing its role in saving elephants and rhinos from extinction in the wild in the near future.

The communique was presented by Australian NGO founders Donalea Patman (For the Love of Wildlife) and Dr Lynn Johnson (Breaking The Brand) together with Fiona Gordon of New Zealand based environmental firm Gordon Consulting and Rebecca Keeble of IFAW.

Ms Patman has been disappointed with the response from Minister Frydenberg and the apparent confusion about who is responsible for dealing with illegal ivory or rhino horn.

“The response was that Australia is unlikely to be driving the elephant poaching or international illegal trade,” Ms Patman said.

“On top of that, ivory was found for sale in Western Australia in December 2016 which didn’t have the required documentation (shocking to see that ivory appears in their catalogue again in February).

It was first reported to the Australian Federal Police who then referred it to State Police, who then passed it to Border Control,” she said.

“There is clearly confusion about who is responsible and a lack of political will to demonstrate leadership on this issue,” she said.

Items for auction in Mt Lawley in December 2016.

The threat of extinction of these iconic species remains high. In November last year Vietnam hosted the third International Wildlife Trade Conference in Hanoi.

The Duke of Cambridge and President of United for Wildlife, Prince William attended the conference and delivered a speech on tackling illegal wildlife trade. In his speech he stated “A betting man would still bet on extinction”.

Follow the campaign on Facebook and use the following hashtags #NoDomesticTrade #EyesOnIvory #RhinosMatter #NotOnMyWatch

Print out these posters, take a selfie with it and post to our Facebook page…show Australia that it’s time. The Australian Government needs the public to show that it cares deeply about saving these iconic African animals.

Print out the Speak Out Letter and post to the Minister. Details are on the letter and you don’t have to be living in Australia.

 

The communique that was hand delivered to the Minister in September 2016. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional press:

Financial Review, May 2018

SA Breaking News 13 Nov 2017

Lowvelder Press 13 November 2017

SA Breaking News

15 Minute News

Traveller 24

Netwerk 24

The Mercury