Delegates moved slowly through the long agenda of the 77th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), with big cats and elephants making their much-anticipated debut in the discussions.
By the third meeting day, delegates were already a day behind schedule. This prompted SC Chair Naimah Aziz to extend the day’s session by two hours and frequently remind delegates to keep their interventions brief and focused on the proposed recommendations.
With regards to the Big Cats Task Force, delegates considered the merits of a resolution on illegal trade in big cats, including a possible revision of Resolution 12.5 (Rev. CoP19) on conservation of and trade in tigers and other Appendix-I Asian big cat species to be applicable to all these species. While some parties noted the value of such a resolution, others expressed concern over potential negative impacts for individual species, as one resolution for all species could dilute efforts specific to individual cat species.
On Asian big cats, range states reported on the status of ongoing conservation and monitoring measures. Some expressed concern that reporting quality varies and accounts do not align with observations in some countries, pointing to limited implementation of CITES measures. The CITES Secretariat also reported on the missions carried out to facilities of concern keeping big cats in captivity in Czechia, Lao PDR, South Africa, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
On jaguars, delegates discussed the Terms of Reference for an intergovernmental platform, possibly including options for a joint initiative between CITES and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS); and for CITES and CMS to collaborate on the species, including by organizing a second range state meeting.
On elephants, the Secretariat presented a report showing that while illegal trade is still significant, the proportion of illegally killed elephants is generally declining. Everyone welcomed progress and the proposed revision of the African Elephant Action Plan.