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Kenya’s ‘Action Plan’ to fight poaching wins backing at CITES

Date Published: 15 Mar, 2013
 Kenya’s ‘Action Plan’ to fight poaching wins backing at CITES

Kenya’s proposal to fight poaching of elephants and rhinos has won backing at the just concluded international meeting on wildlife trade in Thailand.


The standing committee of the 16th Conference of the Parties (CoP) by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has agreed that ‘Action Plan’ described in Kenya’s proposal be implemented, and reviewed, in year 2014.

The committee also resolved that if those plans are not completed as envisaged, sanctions against the offending country, or countries, be taken from July 2014.

The countries mentioned in this resolution include the supply states, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, plus the consumer states of China and Thailand. It also includes ivory ‘transit’ countries namely Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. 

Secretary General of Cites, John Scanlon, was quoted saying that the deadline was ‘real’.

“The eight states are prepared to do more and be measured against that," he said. "There is also recognition that a failure to take action…the standing committee may consider compliance measures. And, the ultimate sanction under our convention is a trade suspension.

These had submitted a raft of proposals on her own or jointly with other state parties.

Kenya had earlier withdrawn her proposal that sought to amend provisions covering trade in elephant and elephant ivory. The provision also sought a decision to deny elephant range states from presenting a proposal to trade in ivory from its elephant population until a nine-year ivory trade suspension (moratorium) agreed to at the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in 2007 at the Hague (Netherlands) ends in 2017. Kenya’s proposal had been submitted jointly with Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali. 

Kenya’s elephant proposal was majorly informed by the knowledge that Tanzania would be submitting to the CoP16 in Thailand, a proposal seeking to be allowed to trade in over 100 tonnes of national stockpile of ivory. Tanzania had her proposal withdrawn since December 26, 2012 in advance of the CoP16. 

Consequently, elements of Kenya’s proposal were incorporated into Decisions and Resolutions adopted for implementation of concrete measures to help reduce demand for ivory and combat elephant poaching. It is now a requirement that all countries implicated enhance law enforcement and put in place sufficient measures to control increased poaching.

 ‘Consumer’ states are also required to reduce demand in ivory. 

State parties also agreed on texts of Decisions directing China and Vietnam as consumer states to reduce demand in Rhino horn. CITES also issued directives on Rhino range States, and in particular South Africa, to enhance controls in trophy hunting and ensure legally acquired rhino horns through trophy hunting do not enter into the illegal markets.

Kenya, first time, successfully lobbied to have sandalwood species listed on Appendix II some of the species populations of Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. A CoP16 decision calling all the species range states and the CITES plant committee to undertake of their existing populations and impact of trade on them was reached. This assessment will inform future proposal to include the rest of the sandalwood populations in Appendix II. 

Under CITES, Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled. It also includes so-called "look-alike species" - species of which the specimens in trade look like those of species listed for conservation reasons.

Having sandalwood listed on Appendix II implies that all trade in sandalwood within the listed range states shall now be through CITES permitting system that will control trade, monitor and support community livelihood through sustainable species utilization. 

The original proposal was to have all populations of the species included in Appendix II.

Kenya’s proposal on cheetahs was also adopted by CITES. The resolution is to institute a study to help understand the levels and routes of illegal trade in live cheetah and body parts so that law enforcement efforts can be directed towards combating their illegal trade.


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