Safari Club Works to Protect Hunting at CITES Meeting
Representatives from SCI and SCI Foundation recently attended the 28th Meeting of the CITES Animals Committee in Tel Aviv, Israel. CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is a treaty agreement between governments that regulates international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants to ensure that trade does not threaten their survival. The Animals Committee is a scientific committee of CITES that undertakes a special review of the biology and trade in select species.
Safari Club’s top issues at this meeting involved the African lion, polar bear, hippopotamus, and white-lipped peccary.
The Animals Committee was expecting a report on the status of African lion, and with it, a recommendation on which Appendix, either I or II, lion should be listed. However, the lion range states were not prepared to make a recommendation, so the issue was deferred until a later meeting. Currently, lions are listed in Appendix II – this means that only an export permit is required for international trade of hunting trophies. If lions are listed as Appendix I, it will become more difficult to import trophies (and perhaps impossible in many cases).
The Animals Committee has granted lion range states four months to reach consensus on a listing recommendation. If consensus is not reached by January, then an Appendix I proposal is likely to be submitted at the next major CITES meeting (Fall 2016).
Like lion, polar bear was also in a special review. A thorough review of the management and status of polar bears, as well as trade levels in the species, found trade to be insignificant for all range states, and polar bear was removed from the review entirely. This is an important outcome as it tells the world that the scientific body of CITES believes polar bears are appropriately listed as Appendix II. Animal welfare groups were not pleased with this outcome because they know their hopes for an Appendix I listing are fading away.
The same result occurred for white-lipped peccary, which is opportunistically hunted in South America, and harvest will continue as usual.
Cameroon hippopotamus, on the other hand, is still under special review until we can determine that harvest levels are non-detrimental. Currently, Cameroon is allowed a quota of 10 hippos each year until they demonstrate that a larger harvest can be supported. SCI Foundation offered assistance to Cameroon to gather information and report on the status of their hippos.
Overall, Safari Club was pleased with the outcome of the meeting. We hope to keep this momentum going at the next CITES meeting, which will be held in Geneva in January 2016.