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CITES Committee demands urgent action against wildlife trafficking from African countries


The Convention in Brussels ended with urging of trade sanctions for noncompliance

Strong resolutions and demands were voiced by the Standing committee for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) at the end of the 66th meeting which ended in Geneva on Friday 15th January.  Two African countries in particular were singled out for not doing enough to curb rhino horn trade, ivory trafficking, and exotic timber smuggling.

The countries of Mozambique and Tanzania have been cautioned for failing to take critical steps to prevent the trafficking of ivory. Angola and Nigeriawere criticized and threatened with trade sanctions for failing to report progress on their national ivory actions plans.

Tanzania, which has lost more than half its elephant population has been called on to take urgent and critical steps toward restricting ivory trafficking before the next meeting in September. The issues surrounding Zanzibar which is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania was clearly of concern to the CITES committee. Zanzibar has become a major hub for the trafficking of timber, ivory, and rhino horn.  Carlos Drews of the WWF did point out that there was some “considerable progress” made by various countries, but that Tanzania and Mozambique have a lot of catching up to do.

In 2015, Tanzania made three significant arrests of kingpins in the poaching and trafficking trade. In December 2015,  Feisal Ali Mohammed, an alleged organized crime boss was arrested by Interpol agents in Tanzania. He was described as a “leading” person in the trade of wildlife.  Two months earlier, two major arrests took down Yang Fen Glan, a Chinese citizen linked to over 700 tusks and Shetani, a leader of a major poaching gang in the country. Nevertheless, CITES wants to see more commitment from the country especially with respect to Zanzibar.

Mozambique has been singled out for not yet enforcing new wildlife legislationthat was drafted eighteen months ago. The trafficking “Kingpins” are getting away with their crimes and this is counter to the Presidents “promise” to address wildlife crime in his country. The elephant population of Mozambique has been devastated by poaching. In May 2015, the Guardian reported that in just five years the country had lost half of the national herd to rampant poaching. The country was also told that they must sort out their plan to curb the rhino horn trade and that they should report back to the committee on steps taken.

The majority of the trafficking of wildlife is caused by Vietnam which has created and sustained the demand. The country is a hub into Asia for rhino horn, ivory, and lion parts. Vietnam has to start demonstrating that they’re seriously going to do something about stamping out the trade.

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