CITES Dateline – Bangkok, Thursday, March 7, 2013

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U.S Polar Bear Proposal Soundly Defeated, but SCI & SCI Foundation Need To Stay Alert: 

The U.S. proposal to list the polar bear on Appendix I (endangered) went down to defeat on March 7, despite a lot of diplomatic arm-twisting by the U.S.  SCI and SCI Foundation helped ensure the defeat in many ways, including direct lobbying of delegates, putting the right people together to make influential floor statements to sway undecided delegates, and circulating an influential Voting Guide that was well-received by delegates.

In CITES, decisions are taken first in one of two major committees, then they come back to the entire body (Plenary) for approval.  It is possible to reopen issues when they come to Plenary.  There are rumors that some party will attempt to reopen the polar bear issue.  SCI and SCI Foundation are making preparations to deal a second attempt on polar bear.

Kenya Rhino Trophy Export Ban Defeated; Caution Warranted: Kenya withdrew its proposal to ban southern white rhino trophy exports from South Africa and Swaziland.  SCI and SCI Foundation are watchful, however, because there are indications they may try something in a few days. SCI and SCI Foundation were instrumental in this defeat, linking with rhino range states and their allies.

Kenya Elephant Moratorium Proposal Defeated: Just as with the rhinos, Kenya was embarrassed into withdrawing a proposal to extend the ivory trading moratorium to all countries with stockpiles.  This is a sustainable use issue that is important to many hunting countries that have substantial elephant populations.

Many Countries Have Unrealistic Ideas About Conservation of Elephants: 

No one is disputing that a sharp increase in elephant poaching has occurred in the last couple of years.  But there were a few excellent scientific presentations that clearly showed elephant populations in southern African countries, such as Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana, are in good shape and are well managed, despite an increase in poaching.   These studies also showed that where the poaching is having the greatest impact is in the countries with poor governance and high poverty.  They also showed that Kenya is a major transit point for illegal ivory shipments.

So after getting all this information, what did SCI and SCI Foundation hear from the delegates?  Instead of talking realistically about how to use ivory, a renewable resource, to help deal with the poaching, may delegates called loudly and unrealistically for someone to provide hundreds of millions of dollars and for the creation of an elite military “green force” to hunt down the well-armed military-style poachers throughout Africa.

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