By Laurel Neme
Part 2 of 3
When the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meets from March 3-14 in Bangkok for its 16th Conference of Parties (CoP16), elephants and rhinos will be at the top of the agenda.
“There’s no doubt that in relation to elephant and rhino we’re seeing a spike in illegal killing and illegal trade,” says CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon. “The trends are all up and we need to pull these trends down.”
While there are no proposals to open up trade in either elephant ivory or rhino horn, there are several other items on the agenda that will likely generate debate, including proposals for extension of the moratorium on ivory trade, a decision-making mechanism for ivory trade, and suspension of any rhino trophy hunting. Also to be discussed are enforcement mechanisms, including how to prevent illegal ivory from entering existing legal domestic markets.
The following interview with CITES Secretary-General John Scanlon explores in depth the elephant and rhino issues on the CITES CoP16 agenda. It was transcribed by Kirstin Fagan. To listen to it in its entirety, please visit: www.laurelneme.com/wildliferadio. For more on CITES and the upcoming meeting, see: www.cites.org.
TRENDS IN ELEPHANT POACHING AND TRADE
Laurel Neme: There have been several major spikes in elephant poaching. In fact, there were killings recently in the Central African Republic. When incidents occur, is there anything really CITES can do?
John Scanlon: There’s no doubt that in relation to elephant and rhino we’re seeing a spike in illegal killing and illegal trade. With respect to elephant, we’re seeing it across all four subregions, most prominently within Central Africa. So, the data that we’ve got, and we don’t speculate here, we actually have good data and good analysis, as it turns out are all up.
With the MIKE [Monitoring Illegal Killing of Elephants] program, we have the highest level of illegal killing we’ve seen since MIKE data was kept ten years ago. With respect to the illegal trade, which is kept by ETIS [Elephant Trade Information System] (which is managed by TRAFFIC), we’re seeing the highest level of illegal trade we’ve seen in almost two decades. More....