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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!

 

The Journey Home & Return To Earth

Melbourne Elephant Ivory and Rhino Horn Crush Epilogue

Donalea Patman, Founding Director, For the Love of Wildlife

 

For the Love of Wildlife has taken very seriously its commitment to the #MelbourneCrush and #NoDomesticTrade campaign. While the act of destroying elephant ivory and rhino horn items aims to show that the only value they have is on a living animal, importantly, we must consider that these items represent the death of thousands of elephants and rhinos.

#MelbourneCrush held in Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne on World Wildlife Day, 2018. Jason Wood MP destroying ivory surrendered by the Australian Government to be #Gone4Good.

Elephants are incredible creatures with strong social structures and personalities. Just like us, they have intricate family systems.  Rhinos are as ancient as time, yet there are just 27,000 rhinos left in the wild today. These sensitive beings are fast disappearing before our very eyes.

On Saturday 3 March 2018, Australia marked World Wildlife Day with a powerful message about the importance of these majestic animals, by destroying elephant ivory and rhino horn.

Understandably, we have being considering what the epilogue must be for the items being crushed.

A heart-felt invitation has been received from internationally celebrated artist and Founder of the Human Elephant Foundation, Andries Botha, for the crushed ivory and horn, of these elephants and rhinos, to take the journey home and be returned to the earth in the land that they were born. The crushed items will be buried beneath a bronze memorial Andries is creating to honour Dr Ian Player and his conservation partner, Magqubu Ntombela.

Dr Ian Player with his dear friend and conservation partner, Magqubu Ntombela.

Andries was a very dear and close friend of Dr Ian Player who passed in 2015. For the Love of Wildlife is both honoured and humbled by Andries’ invitation, for these elephants and rhinos to complete their journey home.

“It is, in my opinion vitally significant to bring the crushed rhino horn and elephant tusk home to the ancestral lands of these ancient creatures, where not only their bodies exist as essential components of our ecosystems, but where their ancestral presence and voices originate.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

I finish with a message from Andries.

We from the Human Elephant Foundation commend and support For the Love of Wildlife Ltd and the Australian supporters of the Melbourne Crush event.

It is critical that countries who are a part of the wildlife traffic economy take a courageous stand in support of wildlife that is now particularly vulnerable, as poachers, organised crime syndicates, corrupt governments and private and corporate business become more bold in their commodification of wild life products. It is imperative that we stand for these endangered animals. 

It is, in my opinion, vitally significant to bring the crushed rhino horn and elephant tusk home to the ancestral lands of these ancient creatures, where not only their bodies exist as essential components of our ecosystems, but where their ancestral presence and voices originate.

We are honoured to take custodianship of the crushed remains of these animals, to bury them beneath a monumental memorial sculpture soon to be erected to honour Magqubu Ntombela and Dr Ian Player, who saved the White Rhino from extinction in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and to repatriate them to the land they belong to.

A maquette of the memorial.

Andries Botha, South African Sculptor and Founder, Human Elephant Foundation.