The so-called ‘Gang of 8′ which were singled out by CITES as not doing enough to tackle the illegal ivory trade has seen its number swell by another 11 countries. The latest meeting of CITES which ended yesterday has ordered 11 more countries to develop national action plans on how they plan to protect elephants and end the illegal ivory trade crossing into their borders.
The first 8 countries that were highlighted last year for special measures and ordered to produce national action plans on ivory were:
- The United Republic of Tanzania
- Viet Nam
Now 11 new countries have been added to the list of those causing concern. They have been identified as being major players in the ivory trade either as source, transit or destination countries. The following countries need to develop national action plans to protect both elephants and rhino:
- the Democratic Republic of Congo
- the Lao PDR,
- Mozambique and
“The Committee has focused on those specific areas where further action is needed now to combat the illegal wildlife trade and to enhance effective conservation. Action-oriented and time bound national plans to combat illegal ivory trade have proven to be effective and successful. For this reason the Committee has widened the net to apply this tool to a broader range of countries and species,” said John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES.
The use of the national ivory action plans allows countries to focus attention on what practical work needs to be done on the front lines, and was seen as a success with multiple tangible measures being taken. For example, since these national ivory action plans were put in place in 2013, there was a clear increase in the number of seizures made in Africa, with 80% of large-scale ivory seizures occurring in Kenya, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
Despite being placed on the Gang of 8 at the CITES meeting in Bangkok last year the Geneva meeting decided that Thailand has not yet done enough to combat its role in the ivory trade. The official end of conference statement highlights that the country has been given till March 31st 2015 to put in place changes to national laws and regulations to control its legal domestic ivory trade or face sanctions.
The CITES Secretariat will examine the progress that Thailand has made on tackling laundering of illegal ivory into its market on 15th January 2015 and again on March 31st 2015. If Thailand has not make significant progress by this date, the Committee will consider taking compliance measures before its next meeting. The compliance measures available to the Committee include recommending a suspension of international trade in all CITES listed species.
Main Photo: (Michael Lorentz)