IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, informed key decisions to help combat illegal trade in wildlife at the 69th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 27 November – 1 December 2017.
The CITES Standing Committee provides policy guidance to the CITES Secretariat, contends with issues of non-compliance, and provides advice and makes recommendations to the CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP).
IUCN’s delegation to the meeting provided scientific and technical documents and expert interventions on an array of species and themes such as orchids, pangolins, African and Asian elephants and sustainable use and livelihoods.
The IUCN SSC Guiding Principles on Creating Proxies for Extinct Species for Conservation Benefit were submitted to inform discussions on de-extinction, whilst the Orchid Specialist Group Global Trade Programme submitted an information document on non-compliance with the Convention concerning orchids. A recent action plan on the helmeted hornbill, developed in conjunction with IUCN, was also referenced to guide conservation of this species.
An IUCN report on the status, trade and conservation of pangolins also informed the meeting. The report highlighted that an estimated 192,000 pangolins were illegally traded globally between 1999 and 2017 and measures were agreed at the meeting help combat this trafficking.
IUCN called for immediate action to avert the extinction of the vaquita. Vaquitas are primarily affected by gill nets - ‘curtains’ of fishing net that hang in the water - which are used illegally to catch totoaba fish. As a result of deliberations at the meeting, the CITES Secretary-General is to be invited to conduct a high-level mission to Mexico in 2018 to generate high-level political support for action to avoid the immediate risk of vaquita extinction.
The next Standing Committee meeting will take place in from 1-5 October 2018 in Sochi, Russia. IUCN will be present to contribute its expertise to the meeting.