Incremental Steps Lead to Leap in Wildlife Conservation at 16th CITES Conference

Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:57am EDT

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International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

March 15, 2013 - 01:56:41 AM

Incremental Steps Lead to Leap in Wildlife Conservation at 16th CITES

BANGKOK, THAILAND--(Marketwire - March 15, 2013) - As the 16th Conference of
the Parties (CoP) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES) in Bangkok comes to a close, IFAW is celebrating an historic
CoP that left polar bears in the cold but brought additional protection to an
unprecedented number of species. In addition to numerous positive results the
tone and level of the discussion, which has been rancorous in the past, was
largely constructive. 

"I've noticed two big shifts at this CITES CoP," says Azzedine Downes, CEO and
President of IFAW and head of IFAW's CITES delegation. "First, things are
shifting towards the precautionary principle. When in doubt people are
choosing conservation. Second, delegates are talking about the first
solution-oriented CoP in a long time and IFAW is proud to contribute to that."

The largest victory for animals at this year's CoP was likely the three
proposals to uplist five shark species. "One of the keys of this victory for
shark conservation is that we had strong support from countries in the Arabian
Peninsula and West Africa. Years of work by IFAW and other groups to raise
awareness on the issue and conduct the research and science on which to make a
clear case for regulating the trade in shark fins," said Dr. Ralf Sonntag,
IFAW shark expert.

"IFAW will begin to work immediately to organize workshops to ensure the
proper implementation of these new regulations," said IFAW CEO and President
Azzedine Downes.

For elephants developments came in the form of smaller, more incremental
improvements such as requiring countries to send samples from large ivory
seizures to established forensic analysis facilities. This will help trace the
smuggling route of the ivory and track down those responsible. Ivory consuming
nations such as Thailand mall and China are encouraged to engage in consumer
awareness campaigns that will educate the public about ivory trade laws and
reduce demand for ivory. Ensuring hunting trophies containing elephant ivory
cannot be illegally laundered using an exemption to the CITES permit regime
for personal and household items as well as delaying the creation of a
Decision-making Mechanism to govern future ivory trade until at least CoP17 in

"These developments will not stop the current poaching crisis that is killing
up to 25,000 elephants per year but they will help and they should save some
elephants," says IFAW's Jason Bell, Elephant Program Director. "We continue to
urge more countries to donate to the African Elephant Fund to pay for the
Plan's implementation." 

The polar bear, as one of the world's most iconic species, was under
particular scrutiny as the bear was proposed for an Appendix I listing
effectively banning the international commercial trade. "It is disappointing
that the world has chosen to continue trading in endangered polar bears," said
Jeff Flocken, North American Regional Director. "But range states are now
thinking about next steps in polar bear protection and unfortunately the
situation for polar bears is not going to get any better. IFAW expects to see
them back at CITES in the future."

About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects
in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent
cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats.
For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Media contact:
Adrian Hiel
(Bangkok) +66 082 974 2650
(Brussels) +32 473 86 34 61

IFAW Canada
Michelle Cliffe
+647 986 4329
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