International Trade in Live African Elephant Specimens: Proposed Revision of Resolution Conf. 10.10 (Rev. Cop18)

CoP19 Doc. 66.4.1

International Trade In Live African Elephant Specimens: Proposed Revision Of Resolution Conf. 10.10 (Rev. Cop18)

Thank you, madam chair, I make this intervention of behalf of SUCo-SA and several other observers, a list which can be provided in written form.

A fellow observer from the Community Leaders Network highlighted it perfectly, in an earlier session, take away incentives and the benefits of the sustainable use of natural resource from communities and they will convert key wildlife habitat to other land use options to ensure they can provide for their families. Echoing the comments made by numerous parties, CITES main objective is to ensure that trade does not jeopardise species survival.

With specific reference to in situ conservation in South Africa, we have an abundance of elephant with an excess of over 1 000 adult elephant breeding females now under some form of contraception to prevent them from breeding. As this project is predominantly funded by HSIA (something which baffles many, is either a species is endangered and requires protection under CITES to ensure its growth and protection or it is overpopulated and requires population control, it can not be both) Clearly it is not trade in live exports, legal trophy hunting or even poaching that is a threat but rather the lack of habitat. Hence the relevance of the split-listing between CITES Appendix I and Appendix II with populations of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia listed in Appendix II.

Madam chair, I’d like to remind the parties that you all might be free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choice. As the over populations of elephant in many areas of Southern African countries are having a devastating impact on fauna and flora, with the vanishing top canopy trees and the subsequent destruction of key vulture nesting sites, as well as many other threatened bird species, to demonstrate a brief example.

Any form of further trade restrictions of any kind on domestic trade and export will merely further disincentivize local communities that in most instances carry the burden of tolerating an already overpopulated elephant population. Communities hold the key as the custodians of the most essential component ensuring elephant survival, which is the habitat in which they live.

Furthermore, the limitations proposed on in situ conservation within its historic or natural distribution range in Africa will have conservation impacts on movements of the southern white rhino within Africa through unintended consequences, undoing many re-wilding conservation initiatives. Considering doc 66.4.1 & 2 are about elephant, we suggest all reference to southern white rhino be removed.

In conclusion; SUCo-SA reminds the parties that this prestigious convention in not a welfare forum and these discussion are outside of its mandate and is an infringement on sovereign rights. It is the view of SUCo-SA that proposals Doc. 66.4.1 is an overreach by the proponent parties and should not be supported.

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