Conservation Force dinner for RSA, Tanzania and Zimbabwe delegations.
Conservation Force made a strong showing at the CITES Animals Committee (AC) meeting in Geneva in July. The AC is the scientific arm of the CITES process. It recommends actions to the decision-making Standing Committee. We also used this opportunity to interface with our friends in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
We started the five days by hosting a dinner for leopard and lion range states. The country representatives discussed the upcoming non-detriment findings required on African leopard and agreed to coordinate in updating their findings. They shared information on how they are revising leopard hunting and age-based regulations. It was a constructive dinner and also gave us the opportunity to strengthen our relationships with these crucial range states, and their relationships with each other.
We participated in several working groups, including one on Significant Trade Review and one on Periodic Review. We paid careful attention when hippo from Mozambique, African lion and African elephant were proposed for Significant Trade Review. However, none of these species were included on the list. Most notably for the Periodic Review, the current Appendix I listings of Ovis ammon
(argali) and Ovis aries
(wild sheep) were proposed for review. This is a voluntary process. But if range states engage, they may determine sheep species currently listed on the CITES Appendices should be down-listed or delisted. We intend to work with range states as requested, to evaluate whether careful management (including the hunting community's significant investment) has recovered species to justify a change in CITES listing status.
We had two productive lunches with like-minded organizations. First, we are working closely with other representatives of the hunting community on the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), which has proposed to list both lion and leopard. Second, we agreed to greater coordination with other sustainable use organizations, to provide a more coordinated presence at CITES and other international meetings.
Further, decisions related to lion and leopard were pending at the AC, following the recent CoP17 in Johannesburg. The CITES Secretariat and CMS representative reported on the joint CITES-CMS "Large Carnivores Initiative," proposed to cost over $50 million and coordinate management activities related to lion, leopard, wild dog, and cheetah across range states. Among other things, Conservation Force, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and South Africa objected to the inclusion of lion and leopard as "migratory" species and questioned the benefits of this approach. The CMS representative seemed surprised by the dissent. We will continue to fight the listing of these species on CMS.
South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and other range states also reported on the implementation of their leopard management plans. Among other things, each country noted it has conducted further research on leopard, particularly on age restrictions on lawful leopard trophies.
Marco Pani discusses the elephant issue with the Tanzania delegation at CITES Animals Committee Meeting.
Moreover, we attended an "informal meeting on trophy hunting" hosted by the Spanish Scientific Authority. That Authority proposed certification of hunting areas in Africa, proposed to be carried out by Spain or the EU. That proposal was met by little support, and particular opposition from Zimbabwe, Uganda, and South Africa, who emphasized the importance of tourist hunting to their conservation paradigm. Even the EU distanced itself from the concept as "just coming from Spain." We anticipate this proposal will fizzle out in Spain, and will not develop as a concept within the EU. Notably, several animal rights organizations sat in and listened to the discussion.
We also prepared and provided a one-page information sheet emphasizing the extensive habitat whose protection is justified by tourist hunting revenues.
We ended the trip by having another dinner with the Zimbabwean representatives, following the hunt of "Xanda," the alleged "son" of "Cecil." This meeting was also productive because we discussed further cooperation on lion conservation.
All in all, the meeting was successful because it did not negatively impact the hunting community.