Next week will prove vital to the survival of a number endangered, heavily traded species.
Representatives from over 180 countries will meet in Johannesburg, South Africa, to decide whether to ban, restrict – and in some cases reopen – trade in certain rare animals and their parts.
The congregation consists of countries that have signed up to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. This week’s meeting is the 17th Conference of Parties, and a number of NGOs such as Freeland will be present to observe the decisions as they happen, and support positive amendments to existing trade rules.
Motions up for debate include whether or not to ban trade in lions, the African grey parrot, and earless monitor lizards, restrict trade in silky sharks and thresher sharks, and reopen trade in elephant ivory from Namibia and Zimbabwe. Another controversial proposal comes from Swaziland, which seeks to reopen legal trade in rhino horn. At the conference, authorities from all countries that are signatories to CITES will vote on these motions, and effectively seal the fate of the species in question. Once the meeting is over it will be four years before the parties assemble to re-evaluate endangered species trade quotas and bans.
One motion that Freeland and a network of partner NGOs have been instrumental in putting forward for vote is that all pangolins be included in Appendix I – ie., banned from trade entirely. Found in Africa and Asia, this scaly anteater is coveted for its meat and scales, the former considered a delicacy and the latter used in traditional Chinese medicine. Pangolins are widely believed to be the most trafficked mammal on earth, a situation that has emerged as a byproduct of its confusing legal status – with Asian species protected from trade, and African species not.
If the parties vote to protect all pangolins under Appendix I, it will be much simpler for enforcement to certify, with confidence, that ANY pangolin parts being traded or consumed are being done so illegally – deterring people from participating in this unsustainable trade.
To show your support for a positive outcome to this motion, please add your name to this petition, and share it on your social media platforms. You can also take a selfie with the print out pangolin poster (here), and post it to Facebook or Twitter, tagging @CITES and including the hashtag #ProtectOurPangolins, to let them know that at this crucial time, people are rooting for this little-known, but heavily exploited, critter.