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Photos and RealAudio of 11 April

On Tuesday, delegates met in a morning Plenary to further address strategic and administrative matters and to hear committee reports. During the afternoon, Committees I and II convened to begin their respective work. The Budget Committee met in an evening session.

Plenary: Reports of Committees

Animals Committee: Chair Robert Jenkins (Australia) presented the Committee's report (Doc. 11.11.1).

He noted the recommendation to repeal a resolution regarding the international trade in sharks, following work done in cooperation with FAO.

Plants Committee: Chair Margarita Clemente (Spain) presented the Committee's report outlining activities since COP-10 (Doc. 11.11.2). She drew attention to increased observer participation during their eighth and ninth meetings. Regarding the work programme through COP-12, she highlighted, inter alia, the need to implement the action plan; continue the review of Appendix II; and improve regional directories
Nomenclature Committee: Vice-Chair Marinus Hoogmoed identified the role of the Committee, including: responding to enquiries on taxa nomenclature, designating appropriate taxonomic authorities; reviewing the nomenclature with the Secretariat and reviewing the nomenclature of species proposed for listing. He said the Fauna Subcommittee had reached consensus on the spider genus.
Nomenclature Committee Vice-Chair Noel McGough noted that the Flora Subcommittee established checklists for Parties, such as the second cactaceae checklist published last year
Identification Manual Committee: Chair Ruth Landolt (Switzerland) presented the Committee's report (Doc. 11.11.13). She noted that since COP-10 only Switzerland had expressed interest in and appointed members to the Committee, and that input had been received from only six countries submitting fauna data.
Chair Robert Hepworth (United Kingdom) presented the Report of the Standing Committee (Doc. 11.8). He identified challenges including: reforming the Secretariat; implementing the 1997 "Harare Compromise" on ivory trade; addressing escalating tiger poaching and smuggling; developing the Strategic Plan; and addressing non-compliance of seven Parties. He said technical and high-level tiger missions had pinpointed reasons for smuggling tigers.

View of the Plenary Hall during Mr. Hepworth's PowerPoint presentation.
ICELAND announced its recent accession to CITES and voiced reservations on the Convention's consistency of Appendix inclusions. He emphasized that cetaceans species listings must be based on scientific knowledge, not on moral or emotional reasons.
Committee II
COMMITTEE II Chair Veit Koester (Denmark) appealed for disciplined input and said he would use an open and transparent approach. The Secretariat introduced proposals to change the TORs of CITES' Committees (Doc. 11.13) mandated by the Standing Committee, taking into account all discussions held since COP-6 in 1987.

Press briefing: Stopping International Trade in Tigers and Tiger Parts

Robert Hepworth, Standing Committee Chair (far left), introduced the report of the CITES Tiger Mission Technical Team and Political Mission to India, Japan and China (Doc. 11.30). Among other things, the report recommends sanctions against India for its lack of enforcement mechanisms.

S.C Sharma, of the Indian government (pictured here holding up report), deplored the partiality of the report and the lack of financial resources for wildlife conservation purposes from developed countries. He added that 25 to 30 millions dollars a year are spent nationally in tiger conservation and tiger parts export has been banned since the early 70's, before CITES came to be. He stated the recommendations contained in the report were counter-productive and unjustified in the CITES context.

Willem Wijnstekers, CITES Secretary-General (second from the left), noted future assistance to India would be in kind rather than in cash to avoid under-spending, which had been a problem in the past. He explained trade sanctions were used to compel Parties to implement CITES and suggested India and China establish central enforcement units.

John Sellar, CITES Enforcement Officer (back row), called for greater communication among Parties on seizures of tiger parts and encouraged the creation of specialized enforcement unit, as done by the UK. He noted that Japan had failed to control internal sales in the past but has since improved its legislation, and China's need to increase the degree of specialization of agents dealing with wildlife crime. He said every Party should help tackle illegal killing and trading worldwide.

Press briefing: Elephant Poaching And Ivory Trade Issues
, sponsored by the Species Survival Network

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Save the Elephants (top photo, far left), said ivory markets have been influenced by "market sentiment" and that the 1997 decision to allow for one-off trade of 60 tonnes of ivory between Japan and Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe has encouraged market demand and supply for ivory, and increased elephant poaching incidents in Kenya significantly.

Esmond Martin (top photo, center left), Save the Elephants, noted that the trends in supply and demand have differed for worked and raw ivory. Worked Ivory, such as bracelets or necklaces, are primarily purchased by tourists, international officials and diplomats, while raw ivory is primarily purchased by diplomats. Martin said much African ivory is delivered to South Korea and China.

Ian Redmond, international wildlife consultant and co-founder of the Elefriends Campaign (top photo, far right), commented on the situation of elephants in Rwanda. As an indicator, he sited the case of a small park where the elephant population has dwindled from 350 to 5 since 1996. Military presence prohibits accurate data gathering in other areas.

Will Travers, Born Free Foundation (top photo, center right), presented a late-breaking report entitled "Stop the Clock" that contains data on trends in illegal ivory trade and poaching in 1998 and 1999 and estimates that, at a minimum, 30,795 elephants were killed in Africa in this period. This figure is in sharp contrast to CITES Secretariat record that only 235 elephants have been poached in this time period.

Masayuki Sakamoto, Japan Wildlife Conservation Society (bottom photo, center right), opposed further downlisting of African Elephants, and drew attention to an available report on the Japanese ivory market.

Meitamei Ole Datash (bottom photo, center left), Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition, spoke on how the ivory trade and poaching impact the local community. He countered the common argument in support of ivory trade to benefit local communities, noting that the one-off trade led to increased poaching in Kenya, which threatens the Maasai economic basis as they rely on elephants to clear forests to allow their cattle to graze.

Ashok Kumar, Wildlife Protection Society of India (bottom photo, far left), introduced a report: "The Decline Of the Asian Elephant." He explained that only some male Asian Elephants carry tusks, and that there are only approximately 1,000 remaining in India.

Alan Thorton, Environmental Investigation Agency (bottom photo, far right), drew attention to the EIA's report "Lethal Experiment," an undercover study on ivory sales that revealed some 17,000 elephants were poached annually prior to the off-one trade, with approximately 50% of this being laundered. He characterized the 1989 ban on trade as the single greatest conservation efforts for elephants, and the 1997 decision to allow the one-off trade as the biggest blunder. He urged a complete ban on ivory be reinstated.

Although the briefings were open only to the media, conference participants were able to follow the presentations on closed-circuit television.

The polarized discussion on CITES relationship with the IWC may have set the stage for acrimonious whale debates to come. Some delegates intimate that efforts to weaken the relationship between the organizations are designed to cajole CITES into weakening its stance on whales and at intimidating the IWC into doing likewise. Some suggest the IWC whale monitoring system under development could possibly bridge pro- and anti-whaling positions. Others worry that oversights within such a system and any allowance of commercial whaling could encourage poaching and result in the demise of currently healthy populations. Iceland's announcement of its stance against "emotional and moral factors" playing into CITES left many surprised, given its domestic whaling moratorium and their bourgeoning whale watching industry. Some speculate that the downlisting battle could go either way at this point, with "negotiation fatigue" taking a toll.

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