Kenya rallies support from around the world for complete ban of ivory trade

KENYA PREPARES FOR CITES COP17 IN SOUTH AFRICA

(Members of Kenya’s CITES technical committee preparing for COP17)

Kenya’s preparations for the forthcoming 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP17) have entered the homestretch.

This follows completion of Kenya’s consultative preparation process through a national multi-agency CITES Technical committee and subsequent submission on 27 April 2016, of proposals for consideration at the conference. In total, Kenya has submitted fourteen (14) proposals covering a wide range of wild species, including the African elephant, African Pangolins, species of snakes endemic to Kenya, the thresher Sharks, species of chameleons, plant species and others on measures to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.

These proposals, together with others submitted by other Parties to the Convention, have since been uploaded on the CITES website www.cites.org in readiness for discussion as agenda items of the triennial World Wildlife Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa from 24 September to 5 October 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre. Over 180 proposals are lined up for discussion as agenda items of the Conference of the Parties that will bring together 182 States that are Parties to the Convention. The Parties will take critical decisions on wildlife trade policy and the scope of regulatory control over international trade in specific wild species

As part of Kenya’s roadmap to Johannesburg, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources Prof. Judi Wakhungu this week convened a two-day retreat in Naivasha for the National CITES Technical committee to review and develop a country position on all items of CoP17. The committee brings together experts from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenya Wildlife Service, National Museums of Kenya, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs State Department of Fisheries and Blue Economy and representatives of Conservation Alliance of Kenya, an umbrella body bringing together more than 50 NGOs.

Meanwhile, plans are underway to convene a briefing session for national stakeholders, including members of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources ahead of the conference.

Kenya remains committed to playing its rightful role in ensuring that international trade in endangered species of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival in the wild. That is why it is lobbying and persuading Parties to the CITES Convention to ensure discussions of the proposals before the CoP17 bear this intention in mind.

It is therefore critically important that Parties to CITES adopt the proposals submitted by Kenya, key among them the five complementary proposals on African elephant submitted by Kenya and other Parties under the framework of the African Elephant Coalition calling for decisive action to ban trade in elephants and elephant ivory to save the species from imminent extinction.

These joint proposals seek the listing of all African elephants in CITES Appendix I, closure of domestic markets for ivory, enhancing management of ivory stockpiles including where possible, their destruction, ending discussion on the Decision-Making Mechanism for legalizing future trade in ivory and prohibiting the export of live African elephants to zoos.

Kenya’s proposal though is meeting with stiff resistance from South Africa and some other Southern African countries, which in turn are blamed for the present poaching crisis of recent years as a result of having successfully lobbied for an opening to trade their so called legal ivory a few years ago. Experts have linked that decision to the explosion of poaching operations on an industrial scale. These countries have also opposed ivory stock destruction where Kenya at the end of April set a global signal when burning 105 tons of blood ivory.

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