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Daily report for 17 April 2000

11th Meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties (COP11)

Committee I reviewed proposals on African Elephants. Committee II resolved CITES’ relationship with the IWC and considered trade in traditional medicines and captive breeding operations. The Budget Committee approved a revised draft budget resolution.


BROWN HYENA: SWITZERLAND introduced, and delegates adopted, a proposal to remove the Brown Hyena from Appendix II (Prop. 11.19) because no trade impacts on the species had been recorded.

AFRICAN ELEPHANTS: The Secretariat reported on the results of decision 10.1 on experimental trade in raw ivory (Doc. 11.31.1). He stated that on the basis of eight national reports on illegal killings, the Secretariat had concluded that illegal poaching had not increased in the three range States allowed to trade. He said that in cases where it had, the relationship with authorized trade had not been established. JAPAN highlighted national efforts to prevent illegal trade and noted that the Standing Committee had approved its importing system. INDIA said national figures indicating increased elephant poaching since 1997 were not included in the Secretariat’s report. KENYA said the Secretariat had defied the Precautionary Principle in interpreting figures and based its conclusions on erroneous information. MALAWI said game parks provide income to local communities, which in turn develop anti-poaching coalitions. TUNISIA, on behalf of the African Group, noted the absence of consensus among African States.

The DAVID SHEPHERD CONSERVATION FOUNDATION said the experimental trade was invalid because, inter alia, decision 10.1 was not discussed before the COP-10 vote and the three trading range States had participated in the Standing Committee’s evaluation, resulting in a conflict of interest. The INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE COALITION questioned the scientific validity of the Secretariat’s conclusions. TRAFFIC contested NGO figures on poaching, suggesting double counting.

MIKE: MIKE reported on its work and on the work of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) in monitoring illegal trade and killing of elephants (Doc. 11.31.2). He estimated MIKE's operating costs over the next six years at 23 million Swiss francs. Delegates took note of the document. BELGIUM announced further financial support for MIKE and the UK noted it will further contribute to ETIS. The US, the EU and JAPAN indicated funds may be forthcoming.

APPENDIX II LISTING OF THE AFRICAN ELEPHANT: CAMEROON, speaking for a friends of the Chair group, announced a compromise whereby ivory trade will be prohibited until COP-12, with the African Elephant populations for Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa listed on Appendix II.

SOUTH AFRICA introduced its proposal to transfer its elephant population to Appendix II (Prop. 11.20). He stressed that conservation cannot be separated from countries' socioeconomic realities. He amended his proposal to a zero-quota for ivory trade. BOTSWANA introduced its proposal to maintain its African Elephant population on Appendix II and to allow for an annual trade quota of 12 tonnes of ivory (Prop. 11.21). He noted Botswana's elephant populations have a 5% annual growth rate and described conflicts between local communities and elephant populations. He withdrew the proposal.

NAMIBIA withdrew its proposal on its elephant population (Prop. 11.22). He noted that proper management, law enforcement and involvement of local communities, rather than trade prohibition, would deter poaching. He regretted that developing countries were incapacitated in their free use of national natural resources. ZIMBABWE also withdrew its proposal for an annual ivory trade quota of 10 tonnes (Prop. 11.23). He supported the use of elephant products rather than killing for ivory, declared that conservation would come through legalization and called for an efficient monitoring system.

KENYA and INDIA, withdrawing their joint proposal (Prop. 11.24) to list all populations in Appendix I, explained that tourism provides both sustainable conservation and important economic resources. JAPAN endorsed the sustainable use of elephants. The US pledged financial support to ETIS and MIKE. He noted an emerging consensus among range States on elephant security and stated that ivory trade would be perilous without an efficient monitoring system. Many delegations, including the EU, SWAZILAND, TANZANIA and SIERRA LEONE, welcomed the consensus to withdraw the proposals. UGANDA said the consensus proves CITES is a conservation tool.

TRADE IN LIVE ANIMALS: SWITZERLAND introduced, and delegates adopted, a proposal to amend annotation 604 concerning export of live populations of African elephants (Prop. 11.25). He said the proposal aims to ensure animals are traded in conditions compatible with animal welfare concerns.

TRADE IN ELEPHANT SPECIMENS: KENYA introduced a resolution to revise resolution 10.10 on trade in elephant specimens (Doc. 11.31.3 (Rev.1)). She said the resolution ensures participating range States are involved in MIKE, and stressed that MIKE must be acknowledged as an evolving system. Chair Clemente established a technical working group, chaired by Cameroon, to further address the issue.
NON-COMMERCIAL DISPOSAL OF IVORY: KENYA introduced a resolution to modify the terms of non-commercial disposal of ivory stockpiles established by decision 10.2 (Doc. 11.31.4). She suggested the obligation to establish a trust fund discouraged donors from participating in such disposal and proposed that funds go directly into capacity building instead. SUDAN and INDIA supported the resolution, with SUDAN calling to delete a provision requiring that such stocks be destroyed. The UK noted current negotiations with Mozambique for such disposal, and, with the EU, opposed the resolution. KENYA withdrew the proposal.


RELATIONSHIP WITH THE IWC: NORWAY called for a secret ballot on a draft resolution on the relationship with the IWC, in respect to resolution 9.24 (Doc. 11.15.1 (rev.1)). Delegates rejected the resolution.

SYNERGY BETWEEN CITES AND THE IWC: The US withdrew its resolution on synergy between CITES and the IWC (Doc. 11.15.2).

LABELING SYSTEM FOR STURGEON: Chair Koester introduced the draft resolution on a universal labeling system for sturgeon specimens identification (Doc. 11.53) and noted that any amount of exported or re-exported caviar in excess of 250g should be marked. The EU, supported by the US and GERMANY, suggested forming another working group to address amendments to the document. SWITZERLAND supported a marking system for exported caviar, whereas the RUSSIAN FEDERATION and IRAN preferred a uniform labeling system for both exporting and re-exporting countries.

TRADE IN TIGERS: Working group Chair Gnam reported consensus on outstanding issues dealing with recommendations for further action by the Standing Committee and submissions for COP-12. The role of a law enforcement taskforce in monitoring tiger trade will be revisited (Doc. 11.30).

CAPTIVE BREEDING OPERATIONS: Working group Chair Jenkins elaborated on substantive amendments that enabled consensus on the draft decisions (Doc. 11.48), including: requirements for breeders to assure that the exercise is carried out at all stages in a "humane (non-cruel) manner"; description of the facilities housing the current and expected captive stock; new instructions to the Secretariat dealing with species in Appendix I requiring tight controls and oversight determining their entry into international trade; and some additional and clarified guidelines for registering and monitoring breeding operations. The document was adopted in principle pending circulation.

DIAGNOSTIC SAMPLES: Working group Chair Soberón reported consensus on mandating an intersessional group to deal with the matter (Doc. 11.45.2), whose TOR is under development. An intersessional group was accepted in principle, but its TOR is pending approval.

RISKS AND BENEFITS OF TRADE IN WILDLIFE: KENYA withdrew its resolution (Doc. 11.27 (Rev. 1)).

DEFINITION OF THE TERM "PREPARED": KENYA introduced its draft resolution (Doc. 11.55) defining "prepared" to apply from capture to shipment of a species. He noted the Secretariat’s comments indicating that the definition of "prepared" in the draft resolution falls outside the purview of CITES, but said "prepared" should apply from the point of capture. ISRAEL and ZIMBABWE supported the proposal requesting further clarification of "prepared." SWITZERLAND, SOUTH AFRICA, JAPAN and CANADA opposed. The US opposed, but suggested the Animals Committee transport working group prepare guidelines taking into account Kenya’s resolution for consideration at COP-12. Chair Koester and delegates urged Kenya to withdraw its resolution in favor of the US proposal. KENYA obliged.

TRADE IN TRADITIONAL MEDICINES: The Secretariat introduced their draft decision (Doc. 11.56) aiming to simplify the implementation of resolution 10.19. In support, CANADA suggested that a list of species traded for medicinal properties should include "their parts." With this and other minor amendments, the decision was adopted.

RISK OF WILDLIFE TRADE TO THE TOURISM INDUSTRY: Introducing the document, KENYA noted the high economic returns arising from commercial activities such as tourism, compared to those deriving from trade of products from dead animals (Doc. 11.58). ZIMBABWE and BOTSWANA agreed with the recommendation, but objected to a CITES invitation to consider threats to the tourism industry when making decisions on wildlife trade. A majority of delegates, including the EU, JAPAN, CUBA and Seychelles, did not support the resolution. Others concurred with the Secretariat that no relationship has been established between experimental trade and increased poaching, and that with appropriate domestic legislation on trade, tourism should not be threatened. KENYA asked for more time to consult.

TAGGING SYSTEM OF CROCODILE SKINS: The Secretariat noted broad consultations were conducted to clarify resolutions 9.22 and 6.17 (Doc. 11.51) and recommended transferring references to permits and certificates to resolution 10.22. COLOMBIA suggested the Secretariat inform relevant Parties of system deficiencies. The proposals were adopted.

MOVEMENT OF SAMPLE CROCODILIAN SKINS: The US presented its draft decision (Doc. 11.52) streamlining the export or re-export permits issuance procedure and stressed that exemptions were not being sought. She said a draft resolution would be prepared for COP-12. The EU suggested broadening the decision’s scope. IUCN noted the purpose was to ease the regulatory system. The Secretariat noted that budgetary implications were not included. Chair Koester requested interested participants work on language for a final decision.


Chair Stansell introduced a revised budget draft resolution (Com. 11.21) and projected status of CITES Trust Fund to be presented to Plenary for adoption. He said that any new activities incurred through Strategic Plan implementation would be added to an annex on insufficiently funded priorities. He added, however, that new activities would be given priority based on available resources. At the suggestion of the Committee, Chair Stansell inserted text noting that the Secretariat and Standing Committee should better balance their expenditures in light of a depleted Trust Fund reserve balance at the end of 2002. NEW ZEALAND suggested providing footnotes to budget items that require increased contributions. The UK emphasized that any additional savings from the approved biennium should include funding for enforcement. The draft resolution was approved.


While no one side claimed victory in the highly anticipated debate on the African Elephant and ivory trade, the compromise reached left delegates with a sense of relief. Both sides of the divide entered the negotiating room prepared for a long day of debate, and possible defeat, when the many days of subtle bilateral negotiations paid off and a sudden spirit of African solidarity pervaded, resulting in a compromise that has lifted the contentious elephant topic from the limelight. While some delegates are pleased with the outcome and expect that it will bode well for the future possibility of ivory trade, others see the compromise as merely buying a bit of time until COP-12, when the ivory battle will continue.


COMMITTEES: Committee I will consider proposals for amendment of Appendices I and II, including sharks, turtles and tortoises. Committee II will consider CITES’ information management strategy, Kenya’s proposal on appropriate and acceptable destinations, captive breeding, proposals on "introduction from the sea," and the TOR for the intersessional working group on diagnostic samples.

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