Three reports, commissioned to TRAFFIC by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and funded by the EU, discuss how the establishment of a Eurasian Customs Union (ECU), comprising Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation, could result in free and undeclared movements of wildlife, including species listed under the Convention.
The reports call on the countries involved to take a well-coordinated approach to wildlife trade regulation and prevent potential negative impacts on the survival of Central Asian species.
The three reports were issued at the 18th meeting of the Scientific Council (ScC18) of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), where a draft Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI) is under consideration. Christiane Roettger, CMS, noted that close collaboration between CMS, CITES, government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is important in addressing illegal wildlife trade and conserving species such as snow leopards, saiga antelopes and argali mountain sheep, within the framework of the CAMI.
The report titled 'Wildlife Trade in the Eurasian Customs Union and in Selected Central Asian Countries' underscores that, according to CITES, a lack of consistency in wildlife trade controls could result in the exploitation of the weakest link in the chain, allowing illegal trade to enter the ECU by way of the route of least risk of detection, or “permit-shopping.”
The report titled 'A Framework for CITES Non-Detriment Findings for Hunting Trophies with a Focus on Argali' addresses the making of non-detriment findings with a species, and specifically, the impact of sport hunting on argali sheep. Finally, the report titled, 'Trophy Hunting of CITES-Listed Species in Central Asia' looks at the relevance of trophy hunting to conservation and associated local livelihoods.
Since 2004, CITES has moved to strengthen its cooperation with CMS, through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), in particular, to bring a more coherent approach to the conservation and sustainable use of species covered by both Conventions.