Collaborative efforts at CITES CoP17 in South Africa


The 183 Parties were discussing 120 documents and 62 proposals at the 17th Conference of the Parties (CoP17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), said Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.

South Africa, she added, was delighted to host the conference.Watch her welcome message:

“Delegates should be prepared to work throughout and make sure that we make our nations proud and at the heart of it all to save our species that are almost extinct but also regulating those that need to be regulated,” she said.

At the gathering, the delegates, who include ministers and government representatives from the member countries, representatives from inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, civil society and other stakeholders, are taking decisions on what additional measures are needed to end illicit wildlife trafficking, among other things.

Continental agreement

The 12 African rhino range states and ex-range states have agreed on an overall strategy to tackle poaching and increase the population of the animals in the coming five years.Molewa launched the African Rhino Range States’ African Rhino Conservation Plan on the sidelines of the conference on 25 September.

The African rhino range states and ex-range states are Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Spanning a period of two years, with discussions spread out over three workshops, the plan took shape. The minister emphasised that it was important for the range states to work together to increase rhino populations.But the plan would not override current national plans. The African plan focused on general principles of conservation on which all states could agree.“

It seeks to complement national plans by providing an overarching higher-level umbrella plan under which all the national plans can fit,” she said. “The continental plan also seeks to identify and focus on areas where collectively and co-operatively there may be opportunities for range states to work together to enhance rhino conservation.”

Key points

    1. Protection, law enforcement, investigations and intelligence: to implement legislation and strengthen law enforcement actions between both countries and different departments of government; improving investigation and collectively sharing knowledge, skill and state of the art technology;


    1. Biological management: to achieve the envisioned growth rate to sustain, and manage the rhino population and to conserve genetic diversity through standardised monitoring;


    1. Co-ordination: to improve co-ordination between range states by active involvement on an international scale;


    1. Socio-economic: creating support for conservation by tapping into the local population through empowerment of people;


    1. Political support: to boost collective continental political support for rhino conservation;


    1. Communication and public support: to garner understanding and support from the public and all stakeholders involved in rhino conservation through targeted communication;


    1. Capacity: to make certain there are enough human resources used wisely, and make sure they are appropriately trained and equipped; and,


  1. Adequate financing: to explore and develop financing mechanisms and structures to make sure efforts are sustainable.

The conference ends on 5 October 2016. South Africa was one of the first signatories to CITES in 1975 and continues to play an active role in the enforcement of the Convention.

For the full plan, click here.

The Convention

CITES is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention are known as Parties. Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws.Annually, international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and to include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios and medicines. Wildlife and forest crime is not limited to certain countries or regions, but is a truly global phenomenon.

Source: Flauna and South reporter

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