The ban on the trade in white rhinoceros horns maintained by COP19

Meeting in Panama, the signatory states of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) decided on Monday to maintain the total ban on the trade in white rhinoceros horn (Ceratotherium simum simum), rejecting a proposal from the Eswatini.

Former Swaziland, whose proposal was sponsored by Botswana and Namibia, wanted to ease the trade in horns from its rhinos to free up resources to fund the species’ protection. The text was rejected by 85 votes against 15 and 26 abstentions despite the support of Japan and several African countries. Other African countries, the European Union, Israel and Panama had previously called for any development to be rejected.

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Similarly, delegates from more than 180 countries and experts in the protection of endangered species, meeting for a week in Panama, have refused to authorize the resumption of trade in ivory, even regulated, to the satisfaction of the International Fund for animal welfare (IFAW). The “legal ivory trade opens up opportunities for traffickers of elephant ivory hunted by poachers”, argues the vice-president of the NGO, Matthew Collis.

COP19 to the rescue of freshwater turtles

The COP19 conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will go during its second week in Panama to the rescue of a dozen species of freshwater turtles and so-called “crystal” frogs because their transparent skin allows their internal organs to be seen.

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“Freshwater turtles are among the main species victims of international traffic”, explains to AFP Yovana Murillo, of the NGO Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru propose to put in Appendix II (regulated trade) the Matamatas turtles Chelus fimbriaba, from the Amazon basin, and Chelus orinocensis from the Orinoco.

“The Matamatas are plagued by many threats: destruction of their habitat, pollution but also illegal trade, consumption of their flesh and eggs, and now (trafficking) to make them pets (… ) because of their characteristics”, deplores Doris Rodriguez, of the service of forests and wild fauna of Peru (Serfor).

These spiny-shelled turtles, which measure about fifty centimeters for about fifteen kilos, look like living fossils that particularly attract collectors. It is also the spectacular morphology of the “crystal frogs” (Centrolenidae) that makes them the preferred prey of traffickers. Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Peru, the Dominican Republic, the United States and five African countries have agreed to request the protection that these frogs currently lack. nocturnal humid forests of Central and South America.

A major foray into the seas expected

The chairman of Committee I, the Briton Vincent Fleming, hailed on Monday “a positive story of restoration of a species”. Noting the improvement in the situation of the Aleutian cackling goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia), the Committee accepted by consensus, at the request of Washington, to move this species of wild duck from Appendix I (total ban marketing) in Appendix II allowing regulated marketing.

In addition, Committee I of the summit approved by consensus the transfer from Appendix I to Appendix II for a crocodile from Brazil (Caiman latirostris) and another from the Philippines (Crocodylus porosus), but refused to do the same with a species from Thailand (Crocodylus siamensis). This passage makes it possible to lift the ban on marketing these species when they live in captivity.

COP19 should also make a major foray into the seas, by deciding in plenary to protect Requiem sharks and hammerhead sharks by listing them in Appendix II in order to curb the trade in shark fins and prevent them from ending up in soup. The price of shark fins can reach a thousand dollars per kilo in Asian markets, especially in Hong Kong. Hammerhead sharks and Requiem sharks provide half of the sales, estimated at half a billion dollars each year.

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