IUCN provided key input to the 28th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Animals Committee meeting (AC28) in Tel Aviv, Israel, from 30 August to 3 September.
The CITES Animals Committee provides technical support to decision-making about CITES-listed species within the Convention, including drafting resolutions on animal issues for consideration by the Parties to CITES at Conference of the Parties meeting and advising on the sustainability of trade in certain species and remedial measures through the ‘Review of Significant Trade’ process. IUCN’s main contribution to AC28 was the provision of scientific and technical information which helped CITES Parties in their decision-making at the meeting.
IUCN delivered specific interventions, particularly on the global conservation status of species, to support discussions on a range of taxa including amphibians, chameleons, butterflies, macaque monkeys and polar bears, as well as contributing scientific information as follows:
The IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Boa and Python Specialist Group presented reports it authored on trade in snakes. These included an assessment of commercial production of CITES-listed snake species in China and Vietnam; draft guidance on the development of non-detriment findings (NDFs; findings which indicate that trade in a species is sustainable) for snakes; an assessment of the impact of the pet trade on CITES-listed snake species; and methodologies for differentiating between wild and captive-bred CITES-listed snakes. Consideration of these reports at the meeting resulted in the drafting of recommendations on snake trade and conservation management for consideration by the CITES Standing Committee, the next meeting of which will take place in Geneva in January 2016.
The Boa and Python Specialist Group also delivered a side event which provided an update on research conducted as part of the Python Conservation Partnership.
IUCN also reported to the meeting on the status and extinction risk for 115 snake species found in international trade, based on assessments recently completed for the IUCN Red List and this information will be used to consider whether any of these snake species are likely to meet the requirements for future inclusion in CITES.
Tortoises and freshwater turtles
The IUCN SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group presented a report it had authored which provides guidance on trade management measures and the making of non-detriment findings. The report highlights aspects of tortoise and freshwater turtle biology and trade that are specifically relevant in making NDFs and the guidance was welcomed by the Animals Committee.
The IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group reported on a guidance framework developed to assist CITES Parties in making NDFs for shark species listed in Appendix II. This guidance, commissioned by the German CITES Scientific Authority, drew upon expertise in the Shark Specialist Group, TRAFFIC and other experts, and the guidance was welcomed by the CITES Parties.
The IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group was invited to assist the CITES Secretariat and Parties on decision-making regarding African pangolins within the Review of Significant Trade process, through the provision of information on pangolin trade and protection.