SA to host Cites conference

Edna Molewa. (Sapa)
Edna Molewa. (Sapa)
Johannesburg – South Africa will host the 17th Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) in 2016, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Tuesday.

As the third most mega-biodiverse country in the world, South Africa was always ready to take any leadership role in the conservation of biodiversity, the minister said in a statement.

"This is one of the reasons why, at this crucial time when the convention is faced with complex trade, livelihoods and conservation issues, South Africa are ready to host the meeting in 2016."

The proposal for South Africa to host the conference was accepted by all delegates at the closing ceremony of the 16th Cites in Bangkok, Thailand, last week.

Molewa said South Africa garnered attention through hosting a series of side events directed at starting debate about whether rhino horn should be traded legally, under strict Cites conditions, or not.

A number of decisions were taken at the conference which affected South Africa. These included adding five shark and two manta ray species to the endangered species list, ratifying a document on the export and re-export of leopard trophies, and amending wording regarding the protection of the hoodia plant.

Kenya had initially put forward a proposal to stop the export of hunting trophies from South Africa and Swaziland until the 18th Cites. This proposal, after discussions, was withdrawn, with concerns relating to hunting trophies addressed in other documentation. This included requiring permits to move rhino horn between countries.

Molewa said South Africa and Kenya held talks on completing a memorandum of understanding between the two countries.

"Various decisions were adopted to address reports presented on the monitoring of illegal killing of elephants programmes, as well as the elephant trade information system," she said.

Subject to external funding an ivory enforcement task force, consisting of China, Kenya, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Uganda, Tanzania, and Vietnam, would be convened.

These countries, with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, would review existing strategies on ivory, propose measures for long-term collaboration, and examine ivory identification techniques.

They would also co-operate with the World Bank and other partners in developing an anti-money laundering and asset recovery manual focused on wildlife crime.

The secretary-general of Cites would write to the United Nations to convey concerns about the illegal killing of elephants in Africa and the ivory trade. Ivory seizures of 500kg or more would also need to be analysed within 90 days to determine the point of origin of the ivory.

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