Conservation agencies celebrate wins for African elephants and rhinos at COP18

2019-08-28 14:50 - Gabi Zietsman
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In a big win for conservation, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) announced on Tuesday that there will be a worldwide near-total ban on the export and import of wild-captured African elephants to zoos and circuses, except under special circumstances. 

This has been a particular blow for Zimbabwe's exports of baby elephants to the US and China.

SEE: ADOPTED: Near-total ban on sending African elephants to zoos, circuses and theme parks

Other decisions made at COP18 in Geneva include adding giraffes to Appendix II for increased protection and several species of sharks and rays were given new international protections.

The proposal to lessen rhino horn trade restrictions by Namibia and eSwatini was also rejected. The two countries claim their stockpiles and their surplus live rhinos will garner much-needed funds for conservation if they were allowed to trade them internationally. 

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“The suggestion that there’s value in the rhino horn that eSwatini has is kind of false anyway, because they’re projecting that based on a black-market value and an assumption that those legal markets would open up again,” Matt Collis, director of international policy at the International Fund for Animal Welfare, tells National Geographic.

Namibia's proposal focused more on their rhino trade - currently they are allowed to export rhinos for non-commercial purposes and as hunting trophies, but they were hoping to convince CITES to downlist their rhinos from Appendix I to II, which will allow them to trade for commercial purposes. According to Reuters, they are considering withdrawing from CITES.

It was also announced that COP19 will be held in Costa Rica next year. 

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Here are some reactions to the CITES updates:

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