Very exciting to have our work featured in a couple of prominent publications.
Our Founding Director, Donalea Patman OAM, gave a talk to the members of the Order of Australia Association over zoom during the pandemic (and the same week she had her foot operated on!), with the Chair of the association inviting her to write an article for the Victorian newsletter and also the national magazine.
National Magazine article follows:
Endangered species don’t have the luxury of time
We are in what scientists are calling a 6th mass extinction and one of the key drivers is the legal trade in endangered species. It is one of the most lucrative trades in the world yet the mechanism that monitors this trade, worth more than US$320 billion a year, hasn’t been updated since the 70’s, is mostly paper-based and doesn’t integrate with customs.
For the Love of Wildlife (FLOW), successfully worked with the Australian government to ban the importation of lion trophies and body parts in 2015, as a direct response to the brutal and horrific industry of breeding lions for the bullet – this is a legal trade. Hunters who pay to kill only get the head and skin whilst breeders keep the bones which can be worth an additional $5,000 a carcass, used to supplement the Asian tiger bone industry as it is difficult to tell the difference between tiger and lion bones.
Then after finding ivory for sale on Chapel Street in Melbourne in 2016, FLOW went on to address the rampant unregulated, legal, domestic trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn in Australia. Three years later, Australia announced at CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Wild Flora and Fauna) CoP in Geneva that we would join other countries in closing the domestic trade so that we’re no longer complicit in the current poaching crisis. The States and Territories are to date yet to adopt the trade ban.
Through these campaigns FLOW exposed just how flawed the current global trade system is and that CITES is severely under resourced and unable to keep up with the ever-increasing species listed for trade restrictions which is currently around 38,000 species, with the recent IPBES reporting that number soon to be a million. It’s also worth noting that a listing can take an average of 11 years for implementation and some species, even if they’re listed on the IUCN Red List (critically endangered), can take up to 24 years. We are clearly in an extinction crisis but the processes are glacially slow.
Why the lumbering inertia with modernising CITES and specifically in implementing a global digitised permit system? Representatives in Geneva from US Homeland Security stated that electronic permitting will decisively close the illegal trade and yet so much of the large conservation space is focused on illegal trade without the required urgency or focus in fixing the basics (ie the legal trade)?
An electronic permit system has been created by UNCTAD with CITES and the Swiss and Sri Lankan Governments and is now operational in Sri Lanka. For the cost of around US$30 million (about US$150,000 per country) all 183 signatory countries could have this installed closing the loopholes. It would also raise a red flag to a possible zoonotic outbreak resulting from comprehensive tracking and traceability.
Victorian Order of Australia Magazine article follows:
The thunderous roar of a lion raises the hair on your neck and to see lions in the wild is unforgettable. My first sighting certainly had me draw in breath, awestruck by their magnificence, their presence, their power.
A few hours later this was shattered as I was told lions are facing extinction. Less than 15,000 lions roam all of Africa, only 10% of which are pride males, exploited by an industry that is as cruel and barbaric as one can imagine; one that is threatening their very survival.
It was heartbreaking to hear how wild lion prides are chased down, the cubs stolen to reinvigorate captive breeding stock. It all starts with cub petting and pay and play experiences with cubs taken off their mothers a few days after birth, tourist attractions that are highly lucrative pseudo-CONservation programs. Australian volunteers paying more than a $1,000 a week, duped into believing they are hand raising “orphaned” cubs that will one day be returned to the wild. The reality is this is the first step in a highly lucrative “value chain”. When too old to be bottle fed and played with, juveniles are moved to “walking with lions” tourist experiences. From there they return to the death camps, waiting to be purchased online for a quick, cost effective and guaranteed kill. Habituated to humans, these lions are an easy kill, bred for the bullet and shot behind fences. This is the horrific industry of “canned hunting”.
Learning about canned hunting, on the same day I saw lions in the wild for the very first time, rocked me to my core and ignited a rage I never knew I had. I was literally shaking with anger when the friend I was travelling with said “why don’t you go into the world and do something about it”. I couldn’t possibly envisage the path that I was propelled to set upon.
In 2013, leading up to a Federal election, I started writing to the candidates whose marketing material was landing in my letterbox. My letters described the critical demise of lions, canned hunting and how Australia was complicit. Jason Wood MP responded to my concerns, and working tirelessly together on this issue, eighteen months later Australia banned the importation of lion trophies and body parts. A global first. Australia’s ban followed by France, the Netherlands with the US implementing strict import laws, the key client of this brutal trade.
Even before the ban was announced, I knew my 25 years in corporate business was over, founding the charity For the Love of Wildlife Ltd in early 2014. The Australian ban came before the global outrage at the death of Cecil, the lion lured outside the border of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, and killed by US dentist Walter Palmer.
But this story isn’t only about the commodification of lions, so much of the world’s wildlife is being exploited for trade. The legal trade in endangered species was valued at US$320 billion annually as long ago as 2009 yet the system that facilitates this global trade hasn’t been modernised since the 1970s, is mostly paper-based and doesn’t integrate with customs.
And let’s not forget the pandemic, crippling the world, is zoonotic in origin, triggered by the trade in exotic species which rely on captive breeding facilities to supply the “raw material” used in the fashion, food, beauty and medicine industries.
Modernising CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is the critical next step (having engaged more than 30 signatory countries to date).
Jeanette Pritchard’s book A Language of Hope has featured Donalea in Chapter 9, Shaping society – ripples of hope