CITES Head to Address Illegal Trade

05th Sep 2012 Press Releases

John Scanlon, the Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), will deliver a keynote address during the “Great Apes & Illegal Trade” session at the 2nd Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) Council that will be held November 6-8 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

“CITES leads the worldwide intergovernmental effort to protect elephants, rhinoceroses, great apes and other wild animals and plants.

“Delegates taking part in the “Great Apes & Illegal Trade” plenary scheduled for November 6 will examine aspects of the illicit trade in chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans, including drivers of the trade, poaching trends, the impact of illegal trade on wild populations, and current law enforcement efforts.”

Speaking recently at an Interpol conference in the Middle East, Scanlon stressed that more effective law enforcement was essential.

“For some species, it is quite literally their last hope, if they are not to disappear from the face of our planet,” he said. “Every time a protected species is poached, every time a skin is smuggled across a border, every time a body part or product enters an illicit market, the conservation community has failed, and we are one step closer to the extinction of that animal in the wild.”

The 2nd GRASP Council will bring together partner nations, conservation organizations, research institutions, United Nations agencies, and private supporters that are committed to the protection of great apes and their habitat in Africa and Asia.

Other plenary sessions will feature “Great Apes & Green Economy” (November 7) and “Great Apes & Technology” (November 8).

Experts believe that the illegal trade in great apes is expanding rapidly and threatening wild populations. GRASP is preparing the first-ever survey of the illegal international trade in apes, in collaboration with CITES and other conservation partners, including the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).

“There are indications that the illegal capture and sale of great apes is a major threat,” said GRASP coordinator Doug Cress. “GRASP wants to work as closely as possible with CITES to ensure that we counter this threat effectively, and ensure the greatest protection for great apes and their habitat going forward.”

Scanlon was designated Secretary-General of CITES in May 2010, following a long career in environment and sustainable development policy and law. He previously served as principal advisor to the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Head of the IUCN Law Programme, and Strategic Advisor to the World Commission on Dams.

Scanlon, who holds dual British and Australian nationality, was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for his service to environmental law nationally and internationally in 2011.

GRASP was established in 2001 to respond to the conservation crisis facing great apes and lift the threat of imminent extinction by focusing on international policy, funding, research, and media.

September 2012