According to the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES), other concerns of the meeting include the rosewood crisis in Africa and Asia, saving totoaba and vaquita from extinction, illegal trade in pangolins, poaching of African elephants and the related trade and legislations of wildlife products, it said.
The week-long 69th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee is expected to kick off next Monday in Geneva with a packed agenda of 76 items that address the most pressing wildlife trade issues affecting the survival of a myriad of wild plants and animals.
A record number of 600 participants from all over the world have registered to attend next week’s meeting, the CITES secretariat said.
During the meeting, members of the Standing Committee will consider for the first time information concerning Japan’s “scientific research programme” in sei whales, one of the world’s fastest cetaceans.
CITES secretariat said that the Committee will discuss whether the introduction from the high seas of sei whales is conducted in accordance with CITES provisions regulating non-commercial trade in Appendix I species.
According to the CITES secretariat, thousands of tons of precious rosewood have been seized from illegal loggers in Madagascar, showing that the control and disposal of the vast stockpiles of highly valuable rosewood cut from Madagascar’s rainforests has been a huge challenge.
As for the illegal trade in pangolins, the secretariat said that data shows that a total of 1,557 seizures involving an estimated 192,576 pangolins took place between 1999 and 2017.
“Data reflects that illegal trade in pangolins significantly escalated in recent years, with the majority of these seizures, approximately 94 percent, having taken place from 2007 onward.”
Concerning the poaching of African elephants, the CITES secretariat pointed out that there has been “a steady decline in poaching levels since its peak in 2011”, and the overall poaching trends of African elephant have now dropped for five consecutive years and in eastern Africa to pre-2008 levels.
However, the secretariat added, illegal killing continues at unsustainably high levels that exceed the natural rate of population increase, and a lot of hard work remains to be done, especially in central and west Africa, in this regard.
A great diversity of other species, such as African lions, cheetahs, great apes, helmeted hornbills, tortoises and freshwater turtles, rhinos, sharks and rays, sturgeons and paddlefish, are also on the agenda of the upcoming meeting.
“This is the first meeting of the Standing Committee following the largest World Wildlife Conference ever, the CoP17, held last year in Johannesburg,” CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon said.
“With many of the ground-breaking decisions and resolutions adopted at CoP17 being fully embraced by the new UN General Assembly resolution on Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife adopted two months ago, it is now for the Standing Committee to review how the 183 Parties to CITES and its Secretariat are progressing with the implementation of these decisions and resolutions, and to determine what further steps are necessary,” he added.
The CITES remains one of the world’s most powerful tools for wildlife conservation through the regulation of trade.