CITES Current Affairs - 2020
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The 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was recently held in Geneva, Switzerland.
Highlights of COP18 CITES
Smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) was moved from CITES Appendix II to CITES Appendix I, giving it highest level of international protection from commercial trade. Indian star tortoise was also moved to CITES Appendix I. Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) will be included in CITES Appendix II.
The proposal to prohibit commercial international trade in species of otter native to the subcontinent and some other parts of Asia was put by India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
Smooth-coated otter: It is considered to be facing high risk of extinction and is detrimentally affected by international trade, as well as habitat loss and degradation and persecution associated with conflict with people (and fisheries). Its numbers in wild has fallen by at least 30% over the past 30 years.
About Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
It is as international agreement aimed at ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Its text was agreed in Washington, DC, in 1973 (So it is also referred to as Washington Convention) and entered into force in 1975. It now has 183 parties. It is legally binding on Parties i.e. they are committed to implementing it. However, it does not take place of national laws of parties, but obliges them to adopt their own domestic legislation to implement its goals. It is administered through United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its secretariat is located in Geneva, capital of Switzerland.
CITES Appendix: It classifies plants and animals according to three categories, or appendices, based on level of threats faced by them. CITES also restricts trade in items made from such plants and animals, such as food, medicine, clothing, and souvenirs etc.
Appendix I: It includes species threatened with extinction. CITES completely bans commercial trade in specimens of these species. But is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
Appendix II: It provides a lower level of protection.
Appendix III: It contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.
Tags: 18th Conference of the Parties • Biodiversity • CITES • CoP18 • Environment
Ahead of International Day of Biological Diversity (celebrated on 22 May), an awareness campaign was launched by the name of ‘Not all animals migrate by choice’ to be displayed at major airports across India.
Key Highlights about Campaign
- To raise awareness on illegal wildlife trade
- To garner public support for conservation and protection of wildlife, prevention from smuggling and for reduction in demand of wildlife products.
- It also complements worldwide action taken on illegal trade in wildlife via UN Environment’s global campaign called Wild for Life.
- Launched By: United Nation (UN) Environment India and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) of India. Both WCCB and UN Environment started a comprehensive approach with focus on awareness building towards issue of prevention of illegal trade, smuggling of wildlife (and wildlife products) through exit points.
- Inauguration: Campaign was inaugurated by Dia Mirza, the UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador (and also UN Secretary-General’s SDG Advocate), in presence of officials from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India (WCCB), UN Environment, UN agencies and GMR Group.
- Coverage: In collaboration with Airports Authority of India (AAI) and GMR Group, the campaign is set to travel across 22 airports across India over the next year.
- Need: Illegal wildlife trade drives a species to brink of extinction. With a thriving organized wildlife crime industry, the crime chains are spreading across world and India is also seeing a sharp rise in its illegal trade in wildlife. Thus there is an urgent need for awareness, action and stringent law enforcement to curb illegal wildlife trade which is threatening biodiversity and conservation in wild.
- Importance: Conservation is natural to India’s ethos. Although, while wildlife faces global threat and India’s flora and fauna’s demand continues to rise in illegal global markets, India’s stringent provisions for protection of wildlife under its Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, and efforts towards creating awareness among public at large would still have to go a long way to help protect our wildlife. Thus, campaign is an important step forward in creating much-needed awareness and regaining public attention on wildlife trafficking which threatens very survival of these species.
- Species covered: In First Phase of the campaign, Tiger, Star Tortoise, Pangolin and Tokay Gecko are featured. They have been chosen as they are highly endangered because of illegal trading in International markets. Second Phase will see more threatened species.
- Tiger is trafficked for its skin, body parts and bones.
- Pangolin, is most illegally traded wild mammal on the planet. It is trafficked for its meat and for its scales which are used in traditional medicines.
- Star Tortoise is trafficked for pet trade and meat.
- Tokay Gecko is trafficked for its use in traditional medicine, mostly into South East Asia (SEA) but mainly Chinese Markets.
About Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB)
- WCCB is a statutory multi-disciplinary body established by Government of India (GoI) under Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), to combat organized wildlife crime in India.
- It assists Customs authorities in inspection of consignments of flora & fauna as per the provisions laid down in Wild Life Protection Act (WPA), 1972, (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Export-import (EXIM) Policy governing such an item.