Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, September 24 - October 5, 2016
Washington, D.C., September 19, 2016 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, will urge delegates at the 17th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to make precautionary decisions with respect to wildlife and international trade. Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, will be in attendance at the conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, September 24 - October 5, 2016.
The international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars annually and includes millions of animals who are traded as trophies, pets, medicine, and more. After habitat destruction, exploitation of wild specimens for trade is a main reason for the critical decline of global biodiversity. CITES is one of the most effective global instruments to counter the depletion of wildlife species for trade. CITES accords varying degrees of protection to more than 30,000 species of animals and plants that are threatened by overexploitation. With 183 Parties bound by the Convention, CITES is the largest conservation agreement in existence.
According to Roberts, “This meeting is the most important call to save wildlife. And, people are watching and waiting for outcomes. Armed militia and sophisticated organized crime networks are operating across continents to slaughter and trade wildlife for profit. Traffickers and other profiteers are watching closely to see what happens if the trades in elephant ivory and rhino horn are reopened. Any signal from CITES that there is profitability in this deadly trade will result in animal carcasses unceremoniously littering the African savannah and forests. CITES Parties must act with precaution to adopt sufficient measures to ensure that international trade will not lead to the extinction of species for future generations. The outcome of this conference can change everything.”
Born Free USA will be there to focus on a number of important issues, among them:
African Elephants: Africa’s elephants remain beleaguered by poaching for their ivory tusks, and some populations could disappear forever without significant action. Born Free USA will be supporting Kenya’s call to uplist all of Africa’s elephants back to Appendix I, thereby closing any chance for trade that is primarily commercial. Going back to the 1989 ban will dry up ivory markets and reduce elephant poaching. Similarly, the organization will work to defeat certain southern African countries that will be trying to facilitate international trade once again.
Rhinoceros: Swaziland is proposing limited trade in rhino horn, which could seriously threaten the continent’s remaining estimated 25,000 black and white rhinos. Born Free USA will urge Parties to reject Swaziland’s proposal as the trade in rhino horn, like elephant ivory, leads to poaching. Rhinoceros horns are highly sought after in Asia because of false local beliefs in their medicinal properties. According to Roberts, “A resumption of rhino horn trade would have a devastating impact on this species already poached close to extinction.”
African and Asian Pangolins: Born Free USA believes that all eight species of pangolins—four in Africa and four in Asia—should be on CITES Appendix I. Roberts explains, “Pangolins are the most heavily-traded mammal in the world and are at risk from trade in their scales as medicines—despite a complete lack of efficacy in medicinal use. Pangolins are disappearing fast and a ban must be secured on international commercial trade.”
African Lions: Having successfully petitioned for the addition of Africa’s lions to the list of endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, at CITES, Born Free USA will be supporting the proposal submitted by Niger, along with many other lion range States, to uplist lions from Appendix II to Appendix I. “Lions are not only subjected to an international trade in trophies, but are also increasingly targeted by the international trade of their bones, which replace tiger bones in Asian folk remedies. This commercial trade is having an increasingly prejudicial impact on the species.” Read the proposal.
For more information about key issues Born Free USA will be involved with at CITES, visit www.bornfreeusa.org/cites. Born Free USA will be on Twitter and Facebook throughout the conference with live updates.
Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, the organization leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers. Born Free USA’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at www.bornfreeusa.org, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.