A HUMANE SOCIETY OF CANADA (HSC) SPECIAL REPORT FROM THAILAND ON THE 13TH CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION ON THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES (CITES)


"What if there was a world so perfectly balanced that millions of species thrived in realms of water, land and air. What if a single species became so powerful that it began to change the very nature of the planet itself? It's happening right now, and only one species has the power to stop it. Ours." (Alanis Morisette and Keanu Reeves narrators for The Great Warming, Stonehaven Canada Productions)

Over 1,400 delegates representing 166 nations wrapped up critical United Nations wildlife treaty negotiations earlier this month in Bangkok, Thailand at the meeting of CITES, the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, the convention that monitors the trade in endangered species of animals and plants. A total of 50 proposals were debated during the two week meeting. Canada, one of the first original signatories to the wildlife treaty nearly 30 years ago did not submit any proposals for consideration.

There was a general consensus that wildlife was a big winner, however, Michael O'Sullivan isn't quite as optimistic. "While the so-called 'wildlife wins' at CITES are important, they are largely symbolic. What we have is a commitment on paper. But at the end of the day, it is action, not words that will save endangered species," he said. "We can only protect endangered species through a balanced program of law enforcement and education, backed by the money, people and expertise needed to get the job done."

In his role as Executive Director of The Humane Society of Canada, he has actively participated in the administration and enforcement of CITES for nearly 20 years where he works to protect Canadian interests abroad and to offer Canadian assistance to protect the world's vanishing wildlife. He and his staff have carried out scientific research, field projects and conducted dangerous undercover investigations.


He filed this special report: The Price of Every Living Thing - Endangered Species At Risk, where he had been attending as an accredited observer at the critical negotiations for this United Nations treaty.

"Over the past 20 years, we have had very real problems convincing civil servants and politicians that Canadians support the protection and not the killing of wildlife. However, it looks like all that hard work may finally be paying off, and we may finally be able to put all of that behind us," he says.

"At the recent CITES meeting in Bangkok, Canada voted in favour of proposals to protect whales and dolphins, to encourage greater cooperation with other international wildlife treaty organizations, and to secure greater protection for the endangered Patagonian tooth fish. The openness and willingness of government officials to discuss these issues is a dramatic departure from the days when you had to drag them kicking to the table just to get an answer out of them," says O'Sullivan.

On the other hand, Canadian civil servants still have a soft spot for the old argument that the killing of wildlife brings in more money than ecotourism, a position O'Sullivan says doesn't add up or even make sense. "Less than 5% of Canadians engage in the recreational killing of wildlife, and yet Canadian officials voted in favour of proposals that will eventually reopen the trade in ivory and also voted in favour of proposals to allow the trophy hunting of endangered rhinos and leopards," said O'Sullivan.

For example, instead of killing an elephant, Kenya estimates that over his/her lifetime, tourists visiting national parks to see the same elephant, generates over $ 1.3 million CAD ($1 million USD). "Usually the right thing to do, is also the smart thing to do," says O'Sullivan.

O'Sullivan believes that the entire system of protecting endangered species and habitats at the community, provincial, federal and international levels needs a dramatic overhaul because currently we are dependent primarily on politicians and civil servants to protect our interests, a system he says that is doomed to failure. He hopes that Canadian women, children and men from all walks of life will take a more active role in demanding meaningful government action on these critical issues of social concern.

An Interpol report says that drugs, weapons and endangered species are the three most illegally traded commodities in the world. The international police organization says the illegal trade in endangered species is worth more than $13 billion CAD ($10 billion USD). The World Customs Organization is also deeply concerned about the illegal trafficking of wildlife.

"These are well organized criminals, armed with automatic weapons and the latest technology, and we are in danger of losing the fight against wildlife crime unless we use more modern and effective crime fighting techniques," explains O'Sullivan, who has done a lot of undercover work. His charity, recently gave their coveted Heroes for Animals Award on agents with the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Metro Toronto Police for their arrest of a woman using the internet to sell ivory over the internet from her base of operations in Canada.

The Humane Society of Canada is also concerned about the growing threat biopiracy which involves multinational corporations using plants and animals to make medicines. The corporations make millions of dollars, and give very little back to the developing country for protecting their endangered species of plants and animals.

More species are disappearing now than ever before, heralding the sixth greatest rate of extinction since the end of the dinosaurs. Regrettably, most of the discussion at CITES continues to focus on how much the trade in a species is worth, rather than the intrinsic value of the species and their own right to exist. O'Sullivan believes that putting a price on every living thing is a recipe for disaster.

"Right now, CITES is one of the few mechanisms protecting species from over-exploitive world trade. But, we should realize that there is a world of difference between what countries promise to do, and then what they actually do. Unless we hold elected officials and civil servants accountable by having more public participation and oversight, then the only thing we can count on is that we will lose even more species every day. And we will have no one to blame but ourselves", he said.

And we have to protect the fragile ecosystems that support all life on earth. In the last 100 years, we have lost over 50% of the world's wetlands, 27% of coral reefs, 80% of grasslands at risk from soil erosion and 70% dry lands threatened by desertification. Over the last 40 years, more than half of the world's wetlands have been devastated.

"The suggestion that the only wildlife worth saving is the plant or animal that can pays its' own way is nonsense, because the very thing that makes an endangered species more valuable to people leads to its unbridled use and eventual extinction - it is a depressingly facet of human nature that short term monetary gain is a substitute for common sense and long term planning," he says.

Removing large numbers of a species from an ecosystem is like removing a vital part from a complex computer and by the time we notice that species is in trouble, it's very expensive and time consuming to fix the problem, and usually we're already too late. "We need to stop this countdown to extinction before it's too late," says O'Sullivan.

The next UN treaty negotiations will be held in 2007 in the Netherlands and The Humane Society of Canada will be there to continue with our fight to protect animals and the earth.

CITES MEETING HIGHLIGHTS

Background

In 1987, staff now with The HSC organized the first ever NGO (non-governmental organization) operational centre to facilitate and coordinate info and NGOs. The Humane Society of Canada has forged a strategic partnership with and is a member of the Species Survival Network (SSN), an international coalition of more than 75 international NGO's representing millions of people around the world committed to the promotion, enhancement and enforcement of CITES.

O'Sullivan says the way in which Canadian officials have behaved in the past at these meetings was always a strong indicator of what's wrong here in Canada. "Because of political infighting which began in 1969, it took our country over 30 years to finally to pass a federal Endangered Species Act and mount meaningful action plans to protect wildlife species at risk. An October 2004 report issued earlier this week by the Canadian Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development gave the federal government failing grades on its environmental track record.

The Humane Society of Canada had to threaten the federal government with a lawsuit because their practices were contributing to the illegal slaughter of bears for their gall bladders and parts. In another case, the threat of legal action forced the Canadian Government to pull out of its participation in a whale hunt off the West Coast.

"Elected officials are too busy worrying about the next scandal and the next election and have little time for anything else. As far as career civil servants are concerned, they regard politicians as transitory individuals. Some of them regard organizations like The Humane Society of Canada as thorns in their side, and hope that we will eventually lose interest and move on to some other issue," said O'Sullivan.

"However, hopefully we can put all of that behind us. Before and during the 2004 CITES meeting in Bangkok, the willingness of civil servants to engage in open dialogue and consultations have been a welcome change. And animals are the ones who benefit most when we work together," said O'Sullivan.

On the international scene, O'Sullivan says that if he had to pick a candidate for the world's worst environmental outlaw, in his opinion, the Government of Japan would be at the top of the list.

"Nations of the world met in Thailand with a very full agenda. However, once again, Japan wasted everyone's precious time with their talk of killing more whales, slaughtering more sea turtles, the destruction of fish stocks, and the killing of elephants for ivory. We believe that while Japanese citizens are law abiding, they need to overcome their cultural dysfunction about authority figures and rein in the behaviour of their politicians, civil servants and industries. Japan is a manufacturing nation of over 126 million people and has almost no natural resources. Japan had better wake up to the fact that they need the rest of the world, not the other way around," said O'Sullivan.

CITES Degrees of Protection

Appendix I: control species whose existence is so threatened that trade is banned and includes some 1,000 plants and animals
Appendix II: allows a limited trade under a system of permits and includes some 4,100 animal species and 28,000 plant species
Appendix III: contains 290 species of animals and plants that are protected in at least one country.

Most of the so-called "wildlife wins" at the CITES meeting in Bangkok, refer to the fact that many species were placed on Appendix II. This only means that trade is in theory more closely monitored, and with few exceptions (such as in the case of the Black Sea dolphins) it does not stop or reduce the trade in the species. Appendix II means that the country of export must issue a permit to accompany live specimens or parts of the species.


Elephants

  • Despite the claims of ivory merchants, after hundreds of years, the trade in ivory has not lifted poverty in Africa, and in fact concentrates the wealth into the hands of several dozen high level ivory traders
  • A proposal by Namibia to sell an annual quota of 2,000 kg of ivory (representing 128 dead elephants) and an unlimited amount of worked ivory jewellery was turned down in an overwhelming show of solidarity with African nations, delegates from India, Mali, the European Union, Israel, Kenya and others voted nearly 2-1 against this measure which would have meant the deaths of even more elephants
  • However, Namibia did permission to sell "epika" souvenirs made from ivory and wood, after the European Union withdrew its 25 critical votes because it could reach a consensus amongst its member nations
  • Tourist souvenirs help drive the illegal trade in ivory
  • A single "epika" can sell for as much as $1,300 CAD ($ 1,000 USD) and each year there are over one million visitors to Namibia
  • Japan led a group of African nations to oppose a proposal by Kenya for a 20 year moratorium on the further sales of any stockpiles of ivory
  • A proposal by Namibia and South Africa to sell leather goods and hair from elephants was granted, which creates a dangerous precedent that allows the sale of certain types of elephant products, but not ivory - and the slaughter of elephants will lead to a stockpiling of even more ivory, and give these countries an excuse to argue for the sale of ivory at a later date
  • Delegates also approved an action plan and reports that must be submitted by March 2005 requiring all African nations with elephants to outlaw the unregulated domestic trade in ivory, improve law enforcement and engage in public awareness; and further to suspend trade with any country that fails to comply
  • Signalling what will become a trend at future meetings, Burundi noted that they are being sued by a group of ivory dealers for failing to allow an ivory trade to flourish in their country
  • At the CITES meeting in 2002, Botswana was given permission to sell 10 tonnes, Namibia; 20 tonnes, South Africa; 30 tonnes for a total of 60 tonnes of ivory (representing 7,684 slaughtered elephants);
  • The ivory sale was scheduled to take place in 2004 and was contingent on safeguards and so far none of the three countries have been unable to meet (in practical terms however, even if implemented on paper, these safeguards have been easily ignored before by unstable, corrupt governments);
  • If the safeguards are finally put in place, this ivory could be sold in 2006
  • The sale of this ivory will bring in as much as $13 million CAD ($10 million USD);
  • The sale of the ivory is predicated on the nations showing that they could control the illegal trade in ivory, and yet South Africa says that did not lie about 5 elephants that were poached in Kruger Park in 2002 (The Humane Society of Canada was in South Africa earlier this year investigating the illegal trade in ivory);
  • The HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) says that between January 2000 and July 2002 at least 1,063 African elephants and 39 Asian elephants were reportedly poached; and that 54,828 ivory pieces and 3,099 ivory tusks (representing 1,550 dead elephants) and another 6.2 tonnes of raw ivory (representing 794 dead elephants) were seized;
  • A 2002 CITES report revealed over 7,000 reported seizures of over 200 metric tones of ivory since 1989 (representing 25,613 dead elephants) and law enforcement agents candidly admit that they are able to intercept only a fraction of these illegal shipments;
  • Since the last CITES meeting in 2002, more than 1,200 elephants have reportedly been illegally killed in Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, Botswana, the Congo, India and Vietnam
  • Kenya earns over $1.3 billion CAD ($1 billion USD) annually from game-based ecotourism;
  • India, which continues to argue against a reopening of the ivory trade, said that its population of bull elephants is approaching a critical number needed to sustain its population of Asian elephants;
  • In 1980, scientists estimate there were at least 1.3 million elephants. Today there are only between 300,000 to 450,000 animals;
  • By 1987, an estimated 90% of all ivory being traded came from the illegal slaughter of elephants
  • Over the last 20 years, the average tusk size has dropped from 15.9 kg (35 pounds) down to 5.9 kg (13 pounds) indicating that most of the large elephants have already been killed, further harming the overall gene pool
  • In 2002, Zimbabwe and Zambia's request to sell 27 tonnes of ivory was turned down, however in our view, the lawlessness that reigns in these countries at present makes it likely that illegal trade in ivory will be impossible to monitor;
  • Like they did at the last CITES meeting, Namibian representatives are once more making veiled threats about resigning as a Party from CITES - an empty threat because nations which belong to CITES are required to trade with non-CITES Parties as if they were signatory nations (in the past Japan has made similar rumblings at CITES and the International Whaling Commission because it has repeatedly failed to get the international community to endorse its illegal slaughter of whales)
  • U.S. support for a reopening of the trade in ivory was regrettable
  • At the 2002 CITES meeting, the head of the U.S. delegation was quoted as saying: "This one-time sale [of ivory] will be good for elephant conservation" - a remark The Humane Society of Canada believes serves only to demonstrate a woeful lack of knowledge about the way many countries operate in Africa
  • "In our view, only a wildly optimistic fool would believe that a corrupt, violent regime like Zimbabwe would be transformed overnight if you allowed them to sell ivory and kill more elephants," said HSC Executive Director Michael O'Sullivan
  • HSC Executive Director, Michael O'Sullivan has worked extensively in the field in Africa, and posing as an ivory smuggler has led dangerous undercover operations. "In war-torn Angola, for example, rebels offered to sell us 2 tonnes of ivory, which would then be used to buy weapons and carry out acts of terror. In the past, Canada has also supported the trade in ivory, and yet our own Ambassador to the United Nations headed efforts to block the sale of diamonds in Angola because they were using them to fund civil war and acts of terror. What did these same bureaucrats think the rebels were doing with the money they made from the sale of ivory?" asked O'Sullivan

Rhinos

  • Rhinos are in the crosshairs of sports hunters once more, and approval was given to South Africa and Namibia to each allow the slaughter and export of up to 5 black rhinos each
  • Swaziland which has only 61 white rhinos was given permission for live sales of 7% of its population and 1% for trophy hunting
  • Swaziland's rhino population was actually wiped out in the early part of the 20th century and did not exist again until the species was reintroduced in the late 1960s;
  • From 1988 - 1992, Swaziland reports losing 80% of its rhinos because they could not control poachers
  • In 1970 there were an estimated 65,000 rhinos and today there are only about 3,100 of these critically endangered species
  • Since 2002, there have been a least 230 rhinos illegally killed
  • The species is also slaughtered for traditional Chinese medicines and Yemeni dagger handles

Cats

  • A Kenyan proposal to give lions greater protection through an Appendix I listing met with great resistance from countries and lobby interests for trophy hunters and Kenya agreed to withdraw the proposal only after securing a promise from other countries that early in 2005, workshops would be held in Africa to examine ways to improve lion conservation in a practical and timely fashion
  • Some experts suggest that there may only be as many as 16,500 left across the 37 range states in Africa and lions declining because of trophy hunters, habitat loss and the decline of their prey species like antelope which themselves are illegally being slaughtered
  • Despite being listed on Appendix I, a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency reports a well organized illegal trade in tiger skins where a single skin can fetch up to $ 13,000 CAD ($ 10,000 USD)
  • One hundred years ago there were about 100,000 tigers and today there are only about 5,000 tigers left in the wild
  • The biggest threats are the use of tiger bones in traditional Chinese medicines and for their skins
  • Namibia and South Africa were given permission to allow trophy hunters to slaughter even more leopards
  • The USA withdrew its proposal to reduce protection for bobcats (The Humane Society of Canada continues to oppose the exports of a related species, lynx, to the USA for reintroduction programs because of the high mortality and cruelty associated with these programs)
  • The Humane Society of Canada is working with a number of other organizations to stop the killing of these cat species and other magnificent creatures.

Bears

  • CITES agreed to continue to study the problem and to work on effective ways to combat the illegal trade in bear parts and to promote alternatives;
  • Along with others, The Humane Society of Canada prepared a report on the illegal trade in bear galls and parts in Canada and has worked in Korea and other Asian nations on this issue
  • We also support law enforcement initiatives such as the use of specially trained sniffer dogs which check exports leaving from British Columbia to the Far East (the program has been suspended due to a lack of government funding)
  • Great concern continues to be expressed over the cruel bear farms in China, where these unfortunate creatures spend their lives in cramped steel cages, with a tap inserted through their stomachs directly into their gall bladders to collect bile;
  • The Humane Society of Canada staff have investigated Japanese bear farms where bears are raised and killed for their bear galls;
  • Researchers estimate that a single gram of bear gall is worth $32 CAD ($20 USD) and globally the trade is worth in excess of $158, 300,000 CAD ($100 million USD);
  • The Humane Society of Canada continues to oppose the sport hunting of bears, which contributes to the trade in bear galls and parts
  • The threat of a lawsuit against the Canadian Government forced them to change their policy of issuing pre-signed permits to trophy hunters, which facilitated the illegal trade in bear galls and parts

The Great Apes

  • Despite being listed on Appendix I, the Great Apes, such as chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans, our closest living relatives are being killed for bush meat, taken as pets, and their habitat is being destroyed by rampant and illegal logging practices
  • The Parties reviewed action plans and spoke of a commitment for more action through UN initiatives like GRASP
  • A report by the UK based Born Free Foundation, said that 25% of the meat samples surveyed in Nairobi, Kenya shops were bush meat made from apes and chimpanzees, and 19% were a mixture of game and meat from domestic animals
  • Many customer thought they were buying goat or other meat
  • The report notes that the bush meat trade has evolved from a low level subsistence activity to a huge commercial activity supplying urban and international markets; and that selling bush meat offers an illegal get rich quick opportunity, bypassing national regulatory regimes for domestic livestock industries which mandate animal husbandry and hygiene requirements and leads to the spread of diseases
  • The Humane Society of Canada supports project to protect apes and chimpanzees, out closest living relatives and is a member of the Ape Alliance, a global coalition of NGOs working to help these beautiful and threatened species

Vicuña

  • Used to make expensive clothing, the importance of regulations and marking for the international trade in the South American Vicuña (a member of the camel family) was also reviewed

The Saiga and Tibetan Antelopes

  • The Saiga and Tibetan antelopes were also the subject of concern, reports and discussion towards meaningful action plans

Whales

  • For six consecutive CITES Conferences, countries have defeated Japan's proposals to kill more whales
  • Global whale stocks have declined to 90% of their former levels because of humans
  • Since the 1986 global ban on commercial whaling, Japan, Iceland and Norway have killed over 1,500 whales a year
  • Each year, in open defiance of international treaties Japan slaughters whales in Antarctic waters and in the North Pacific;
  • The Humane Society of Canada believes this puts Japan in the role of an environmental outlaw and that there are other illegal Japanese whaling operations taking place around the world;
  • Each year, Japan repeatedly seeks to gain an international stamp of approval for its whale slaughter, and once again, at the CITES meeting in Thailand, Japan's efforts met with failure - unfortunately, this will have absolutely no practical effect whatsoever on Japan and unless they are stopped will continue with the unbridled slaughter of whales;
  • The only positive outcome of this debate was that whale killing Norway, usually Japan's staunch ally, openly disagreed with the Japanese proposal saying that the way in which it was worded might result in an obstacle to killing more whales (before the CITES meetings began, Norway tried unsuccessfully behind the scenes to have Japan withdraw the proposal);
  • The threat of a lawsuit against the Canadian Government forced them to withdrew permission for a Japanese instigated hunt by the Makah which would have given them permission to chase a wounded whale into Canadian waters - which would have broken numerous civil and criminal Canadian laws, and three international treaties to which Canada participates (i.e. CITES, NAFTA Environmental Accords and the IWC)
  • Japan which desperately wants a seat on UN Security Council will never get this coveted positions until it earns a position of trust by bringing an end to its global slaughter of wildlife by bending international law to suit itself
  • The Humane Society of Canada continues to work on new and creative strategies to stop the killing of whales and dolphins here in Canada and around the world;
  • The Humane Society of Canada has actively supported carefully structured ecotourism like whale watching which WDCS reports generates more than $1.3 billion CAD ($1 billion USD) each year
  • Following up on recommendations made 12 years ago by the staff of The Humane Society of Canada, organizations are now threatening to take Japan before the International Court of Justice for the global whale killing operations, and have filed a lawsuit in Australia against Japan for killing whales in the protected ocean sanctuary in Antarctica.

Dolphins

  • Thailand's proposal to protect the rare Irrawaddy dolphin by placing the species on Appendix I passed, despite Japan's efforts to stop it
  • The species is threatened by trade for aquaria, over fishing and habitat destruction
  • Japan which recently imported seven Irrawaddy dolphins to hold them in captivity, argued against the proposal
  • At the 2002 CITES meeting, the Black Sea population of dolphins listed on Appendix II with a zero quota which means there can be now trade in this species for primarily commercial purposes;
  • WDCS (Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society) reports that as many as 100 dolphins were being sold annually at a price of about $26,000 CAD ($20,000 USD) per dolphin;
  • Staff of The Humane Society of Canada have prepared extensive reports documenting the cruelty of the captive dolphin industry in Canada, Europe and around the world and has actively worked to stop further captures and the construction of new aquaria;
  • We continue to actively offer our support and expertise to help Luna, the lone orca off the Pacific Coast, rejoin his pod
  • There are now only 2 aquaria left in Canada, and over the last 20 years, we have worked alongside others to ensure that no new facilities have been constructed
  • Along with others, our staff played a key role in the rehabilitation and release of dolphins once held captive

Patagonian Toothfish

  • Also known as Chilean sea bass, this species has become highly sought after and is available in high end restaurants;
  • Illegal, unregulated and unreported catches in remote Antarctic waters are putting this species at risk;
  • Countries like Canada argued against listing this species on CITES, arguing that regional fisheries management agreements like CCLAMR (Commission on the Conservation of Living Antarctic Marine Resources) should be the primary method of saving this species - however the remote Antarctic waters and the lack of effective treaty enforcement make this virtually impossible;
  • Canada's is a major nation which allows the import and re-export of this species for the restaurant trade
  • The fish grows up to 1.8 m (6 feet) in length, lives for up to 50 years and lives at depths as great at 2,743 m (9,000 feet) in Antarctic waters;
  • The Humane Society of Canada has begun work in Antarctica on a wide range of issues to combat environmental degradation, Japanese whaling, over-fishing, ozone depletion and other environmentally damaging practices;
  • Based on our experience in the Arctic, Canada has a great deal of expertise to offer, and have recommended that Canada establish a permanent base in Antarctica;
  • On 6th June 2003, Canada introduced legislation to ratify the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty to help protect one of the most fragile ecosystems on earth
  • The World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations all agree that the fishing industry is over subsidized, and that there are simply too many fishing vessels catching too many fish
  • Each year, billions of tons of fish are wasted as by catch, and destructive fishing practices, such as bottom trawling, destroy precious ocean habitat like coral reefs
  • According to the FAO, of the 200 major commercial fisheries in the world, 60% are in urgent need of management, 35% are in decline, and 25% are vulnerable because they are being fished at their biological limit
  • A new Canadian study released last year showed that 90% of all large fish species had been already been killed
  • The Humane Society of Canada has long worked on issues related to over-fishing including the by-catch of seabirds, dolphins and whales, sea turtles, destructive practices and illegal fishing.

Corals

  • Switzerland withdrew its proposal to exclude fossils corals from the provisions of CITES

Caviar Trade

  • An agreement between the five Caspian Sea states on a new approach to managing sturgeon stocks resulted in new export quotas being set
  • These five nations produce 90% of the world's caviar
  • Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan have agreed to export 50% less beluga caviar than they did in 2003; and to export 60% less sturgeon caviar than they did in 2003 namely down to 113,554 kg (249,812 lbs)
  • The trade in caviar continues to be a subject of investigations by The Humane Society of Canada including travel to the region by one of our consultants to report on the trade first hand

Sharks

  • Australia and Madagascar's proposal to list the Great White Shark on Appendix II was approved in order to more closely monitor the trade in shark fins
  • There has been an estimated 20% global decline in the population of Great White Sharks over the past three generations
  • After first discussing the problem as far back as 1994, in 2002, for the first time ever, Appendix II export permits are now required for whale sharks and basking sharks;
  • The Whale shark is the largest fish species in the world, growing to 20 meters in length and weighing up to 34 tonnes. The species is highly migratory and is found in the waters of 123 nations. The world population has declined by 80%;
  • The Basking shark is the second largest fish species in the world, growing up to 12.2 m (40 feet) in length;
  • WildAid estimates that over 100 million sharks are killed annually for Asian food delicacies such as their fins, meat and oil;
  • Reportedly, in 1999, one fin sold for as much as $20,00 CAD ($ 15,000 USD);
  • The jaws of a Great White Shark can fetch as high $ 66,000 CAD ($ 50,000 USD) and a single tooth can command a price of $ 566 CAD ($ 425 USD)
  • The Humane Society of Canada has carried out investigations into this practice in Brazil and supported the protection of a marine reserve in the Galapagos Islands.

Humphead Wrasse

  • The humphead wrasse was placed on Appendix II in order to give the species greater protection
  • This is one of the largest reef fish in the world, growing to more than 2 meters (6 feet) in length and weighing up to 190 kg (418 pounds) and this rare and spectacular species commands up to $ 90 to 175 USD in luxury restaurants in Hong Kong, meaning that a single fish is valued at $ 11,700 USD and $ 33, 250 USD
  • Listing this species also means additional protection for coral reef systems, because the cyanide used to stun and capture the fish leaves toxins which kill large tracts of coral turning this fragile habitat into barren underwater deserts where fish can no longer survive
  • The international live reef food fish trade is devastating and is not regulated by any specific agency

Birds

  • There are only about 10,000 Yellow Crested Cockatoos in the wild and they are in high demand for the pet trade, Indonesia won a ban on all trade in these beautiful birds
  • The USA won permission to reduce protection for its national symbol, the Bald Eagle
  • A proposal to protect the Peach faced Lovebird threatened by the pet trade and habitat destruction was turned down
  • The Humane Society of Canada carries out ongoing investigations into the illegal trade in wildlife and birds and has a wildlife rehabilitation centre and tropical rainforest preserve near the Andes Mountains in South America

Madagascar Wildlife

  • All 10 species of the leaf tailed Gecko are found only in Madagascar and are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation and for the pet trade
  • This unique island of Madagascar is home to 270 species of reptiles, 300 species of frogs, and 100 different species of animals, like the lemur, found nowhere else on earth;
  • The Humane Society of Canada has worked in Madagascar to support a lemur and wildlife sanctuary, reforestation, an ecologically sound native lobster fishery, and to combat wildlife smuggling.

Asian Freshwater & Land Turtles

  • The conference gave more protection to five species of Asian turtles (such as the Pig-nosed turtles are a giant freshwater turtle found in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are in high demand for pets, and their eggs are also used for food; and the Malayan Snail-eating Turtle, the Malayan Flat-shelled Turtle, the Southeast Asian Soft-shelled Turtle, and the Roti Snake-necked Turtle
  • The animals are killed for food, traditional Chinese medicine, and taken for pet trade;
  • The Humane Society of Canada continues to support the protection of this species in the wild, and to discourage their slaughter and keeping as exotic pets

Hawksbill Turtle

  • There was a general discussion about the status of the endangered hawksbill turtle and this promises to be an agenda item at the 2007 CITES meeting
  • Before the CITES meeting began in 2002, Cuba withdrew its proposal to sell stocks of turtle shells to Japan (The Humane Society of Canada has carried out undercover investigations in Cuba into this trade, and other practices involving the use of domestic and wild animals);
  • A UK proposal to allow the Cayman Island Turtle Farm to sell shells from the endangered green turtle was turned down;
  • The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) reports that 42.6% of the turtle hatchlings from the farm died within the first 18 months and a further 17.1% die within 42 months;
  • The Humane Society of Canada continues to support projects to protect all species of the world's sea turtles

Crocodiles

  • A transfer to Appendix II from Appendix I of the Namibian crocodile population effectively reduced its protection in order to support trophy hunting
  • The Cuban population of American crocodiles also received less protection in order to facilitate the trade in eggs and hatchlings for crocodile ranching operations

Mount Kenya Bush Viper and the Kenya Horned Viper

  • A proposal by Kenya to list the Mount Kenyan bush viper on Appendix II was adopted
  • The species is only found in the forest of high central Kenya and the species is being harmed by the pet trade and habitat loss
  • A proposal by Kenya to list the Kenya Horned Viper on Appendix II was adopted
  • The species is found only in the high altitude grasslands and scrub along the central rift valley in Kenya, and is threatened by the pet trade and habitat loss

Ramin, Asian Yew Tree, Agar Wood, Hoodia Cactus (endangered floral species)

  • Indonesia's proposal to list ramin wood on Appendix II met with unanimous support
  • Illegal logging destroys irreplaceable ecosystems, homes for rare species like the Orangutan, and displaces native people and causes civil unrest
  • This tropical hardwood found in Indonesia and Malaysia is exported for use in furniture, pool cues, mouldings, doors, picture frames and other consumer goods
  • A special report by the Environmental Investigation Agency found that although Indonesia has banned most ramin exports, massive amounts of ramin continue to flow onto global markets, due in part because of fraudulent Malaysian export documents
  • The Asian Yew Tree is a species unsustainably felled across Asia for their bark and needs which contain a chemical used in the production of the cancer treatment drug Taxol
  • Agar is a scented wood used in making incense, medicine and perfumes and was listed on Appendix II, as was the desert living cistanche, a natural tonic
  • The hoodia cactus has appetite suppressant properties and has been licensed by drug companies and South Africa's proposal to list the species on Appendix II was accepted
  • In recent years, CITES has recently devoted attention to plants, and rightly so, because there are an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 plant species threatened worldwide by over collecting, unsustainable agriculture and forestry practices, loss of land from urban sprawl, pollution, pesticides, invasive species and climate change
  • Plants are a vital component of ecosystems, and are used for food, fuel, clothing, shelter and medicine (traditional Indian medicines are based on more than 7,000 species of plants and traditional Chinese medicine on over 6,000 plant species
  • The Humane Society of Canada has and will continue to work in Indonesia on a wide range of initiatives including the protection of the rare Orangutan

Orchids and Manambe Palm (endangered ornamental plant species)

  • Cultivated and traded as ornamental plants, proposals were approved to transfer the Christmas orchid and the blue vandal orchid from Appendix I to II
  • The seeds of the Manambe Palm found in Madagascar are collected from the wild and traded to produce ornamental plants, and this species was given additional protection by moving it from Appendix II to I

Other species

  • The UK government committed to a partnership project with Thailand to support insect studies and sound forest management practices
  • Delegates agreed to support greater conservation of the sea cumber, which is killed by Japan and eaten as a delicacy
  • Delegates also supported greater protection for big leaf mahogany species of trees
  • Delegates adopted provisions relating to the disposal of wildlife specimens seized from wildlife traffickers

Transport of Live Specimens

  • Because of overlapping provisions in other documents, the Swiss Chairman of the Animals Committee withdrew his document on the transport of live specimens

Cooperation with Other International Treaty Organizations

  • Countries generally agreed to greater cooperation with other international treaty organizations such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the (Commission on the Conservation of Living Antarctic Marine Resources (CCAMLR)

Law Enforcement

  • An overall draft action plan to increase global law enforcement to stop wildlife traffickers was approved
  • A Kenyan proposal to strengthen law enforcement met with approval can lead to greater regional and international cooperation like the creation of the Asian and African law enforcement networks in order to more effectively crackdown on wildlife traffickers
  • Thailand has agreed to serve as the Secretariat for the Southeast Asian law enforcement group
  • The National Legislation Project is a long standing effort to get many Parties who have already signed CITES to actually enact their own national laws to implement and enforce it; and despite efforts by Japan and others, a provision still remains that trade with a country can be suspended for failing to properly enforce a nation's obligations under CITES
  • There is growing concern over biopiracy, the theft of genetic resources for AIDS etc
  • There is growing concern over the internet and as one US official put it, why trawl through a hot sweaty illegal wildlife market in Asia, and risk being caught, when you can shop for rare animals, birds and plants from the comfort of your living room over the Internet, the latest battleground in the war against increasingly sophisticated trafficker peddling endangered species around the globe
  • The Humane Society of Canada notified the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Metro Toronto Police they had been chosen as recipients of our special Heroes for Animals award for their efforts to arrest and shutdown a wildlife trafficker selling ivory from her base in Canada
  • In March 2004, British environmentalists from the International Fund for Animal Welfare over two months found thousands of illegal ivory items for sale on internet auction sites
  • The Humane Society of Canada has written to on line auction houses like eBay urging them to more carefully monitor their sites and cooperate with law enforcement

 

The Humane Society of Canada works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. They carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, fund scientific research, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

A registered charity, we depend entirely on donations to support our programs. All donations are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt for income tax purposes.

www.humanesociety.com
1-800-641-KIND (5463)