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CITES COP-11
Photos and RealAudio of 12 April
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On Wednesday, delegates met throughout the day in Committees I and II. Both Committees reviewed issues relating to interpretation and implementation of the Convention. Contentious issues were deferred to informal working groups.


Interview with Maneka Gandhi

In an interview with ENB writers Laura Ivers (left) and Violette Lacloche (right), Maneka Gandhi, Indian Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, said she was attending CITES in her capacity as the head of "People for Animals", a conservation organization which over 200,000 members. Among other efforts toward animal conservation, Ms. Gandhi said she had written most Indian animal protection laws and has several television programmes and newspaper columns on animal conservation.

In these RealAudio excerpts, Gandhi touches on the topics of trade vs. conservation, the effects of the "one-off" sale of ivory, the lack of resources for the protection of India's tigers, the role of East Asian countries in the decline of tigers and elephants, the reasons behind the low numbers of poached elephants reported in CITES documents, and Northern NGOs "stealing" the image of endangered species:

Part one  Part two
The Limits of DNA Analysis in Monitoring Illegal Trade of Whales
Mark Simmons, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, opened the side event and succinctly characterized whales as highly vulnerable, little studied and little understood. Whales are highly migratory mammals, acutely threatened by chemical and noise pollution, climate change, by-catch, and hunting (called "research" in certain countries). He noted many of the items on the CITES COP-11 agenda revolve around whaling and trade, and questioned when conservation will be addressed.

Frank Cipriano, University of San Francisco, overviewed what can and cannot be accomplished with DNA testing, and what mechanisms are in place to monitor whaling. He highlighted the value of DNA testing in identifying species of processed whale products on the market. Products have been detected in Japan from illegally taken whale species such as the Humpback. He presented results of commercial whale studies between 1993-1999 which found that, in Japan, consumption of North and South Minkes, taken through "research" remained constant and that the amount of dolphin and porpoise met sold as "whale meat" increased during this period.

Cipriano stressed that market surveys using DNA testing cannot control illegal trade, but only demonstrate that it happened. He said those in support of downlisting whale species make false claims that DNA analysis is available to provide effective whaling monitoring. In many cases, there is not adequate taxonomic understanding to identify a species, for example, in the case of the Minke Whale, there are two or three species but there is a lack of taxonomic information to determine this precisely.

He drew attention to a recent workshop on molecular identification that recommended: mandatory sampling of whales that enter commerce; controlled access to genetic databases; improvement in identifying samples to populations; improve areas of taxonomic uncertainty; and submission of Minke Whale survey results to the IWC Scientific Committee for scientific evaluation. In closing, he cautioned against CITES proposals to downlist whale species that assert DNA registers and market surveys are in place.

Dr. Ron Orienstein, International Wildlife Coalition, discussed an Australian proposal to place a healthy dugong population in Appendix II to avoid split listing of species, in accordance with COP Resolution 9/24, that could provide loopholes dangerous to populations in decline. He noted the Secretariat opposed this resolution as the criteria for inclusion in Appendix I requires that the individual population, not the greater species, be threatened.

Press briefing: Report on the "one-off" sale of ivory and poaching

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), released a new report entitled "Lethal Experiment" showing how a decision to allow an experimental sale of ivory has led to renewed elephant poaching. The report uncovers evidence of increased poaching, particularly in Zimbabwe and Kenya in the past two years. Julian Newman, EIA Senior Investigator (right) highlighted China as a major destination for illegal ivory shipments and described the findings of his undercover investigations in the People's Republic.

"Unless the southern elephant populations are put back on Appendix I, CITES risks repeating the mistakes made in the 1980s when elephant poaching and ivory smuggling thrived and elephants declined across much of their range," said EIA Chairman Allan Thornton (center). He said that we've proven that no amount of trade is compatible with conservation, and that the solution must come from reducing demand to zero.

Clare Penny, EIA Campaigner (left), outlined some of EIA recommendations at CITES, which include: support for the Kenyan and Indian proposal to transfer all elephant populations to Appendix I; opposition to proposals for annual quotas of ivory, elephant hide or live elephant sales by Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia; and opposition to any proposal by South Africa to downlist its elephant population. The release of the report was purposely timed to coincide with CITES-11.

The EIA, a non-profit environmental organization based in London and Washington, DC, campaigns against the illegal trade in endangered species, smuggling of ozone-depleting chemicals, and the illegal timber trade.

Miscellaneous:
Visiting the ENB office: Kimo Goree, Managing Editor of the ENB (left) explains the methodology of the publication to Willem Wijnstekers, CITES Secretary-General (second from the left) and Jim Armstrong, Deputy Secretary General of CITES (far right). Seated in front of their computers are ENB writers Leanne Burney and Mark Shulman, and, standing, Laura Ivers.

IN THE BREEZEWAYS
The controversial suggestion to place trade sanctions on India to spur its tiger conservation efforts, has left delegates speculating as to whether this is serious, and, if so, if the logic isn't just a bit off. Some question whether the sanction wouldn't be counterproductive, punishing India instead of providing much needed financial assistance to address poachers. There is also a sentiment that punishing the consumers of tiger products would be more appropriate, but many speculate that power politics prohibit such action. Some developing countries have hinted that application of trade sanctions in response to a lack of capacity could isolate such Parties and encourage them to abandon CITES.

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