CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The most recent CITES gathering was in Johannesburg in early October 2015.
Over 90 representatives from wildlife enforcement networks across the world met for frank discussions on strengthening frontline cooperation and coordination to combat transnational organized wildlife and forest crime. CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon has described wildlife crime as “a multi-billion dollar threat to wildlife and ecosystems, people, and economies, which is taking place on an industrial scale.”
He said: “Collaborative support for the people serving on the front lines and often in dangerous conditions is critical to the implementation of the Convention. When backed by powerful international agencies, wildlife enforcement networks are in a far stronger position to support the tracking, apprehension, and prosecution of sophisticated criminal gangs involved in wildlife trafficking.”
According to a BBC News article by Matt McGrath, Environment Correspondent, Johannesburg, “Attempts to give the maximum level of international protection to all African elephants have foundered at a key species conference in Johannesburg.”
A proposal put forward by Kenya was strongly supported but failed to gain the two-thirds CITES majority required. The opposition of the EU, which voted as a block, was pivotal in the defeat. Other proposals that would have opened up new ivory markets were also rejected. Proponents of the increased protection say it is a missed opportunity to safeguard the future of the species and end the current poaching crisis.
The CITES report is not good news for elephants. But thanks to your support, Conservation South Luangwa and other nonprofits in Zambia are holding their own. The detection dogs we helped provide are essential to keeping one step ahead of poachers. Our fundraiser, Safari on the River raised enough money to pay expenses for detection dogs for another year. Elephants are a keystone species. Without them the entire ecosystem will collapse, and there will be little wildlife in the African continent. We will continue to work hard to protect a rich inheritance of abundant wildlife for our children whether they are in the United States or Zambia. Thank you for being a big part of that work. You can donate at africahopefund.org if you would like to help save elephants and other wildlife from extinction.