News in brief:
Bluefin tuna: The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas is not opposed to the listing of bluefin tuna in Appendix 2, and Australia has declared itself favorable to the idea; more to follow…
Polar bear: You can continue to purchase polar bear rugs and purses. The proposal of the United States to list it in Appendix 1 was rejected this morning. The European Union, the largest importer, contributed to this rejection. It was joined by Canada, Norway and Iceland. Polar bears, threatened by pollution in the Arctic, oil spills, ecotourism and the retreating ice shelf, are spending more and more time on land to find food; they are therefore more and more exposed to hunting. This icon of global warming was cut down in Qatar due to roadblocks of haggling and inertia. The European Union, as always talkative, “doesn’t want to isolate the case of the polar bear from an ambitious policy against global warming.”
The successive cyclones on the island of Madagascar facilitated the illegal use of two species of hardwood trees, (Dalbergia Baronii, D louvelii), commonly called rosewood. These species share a common and commercial name, but not a relation, with Aniba rosaeodora (Brazilian rosewood) (see CITES press releases #1 and #3 ). Traders profited from authorizations to harvest the wood from the storm by felling trees in violation of national regulations. Logs of rosewood from Madagascar were sent to China, Europe or the United States. The maker of Gibson guitars used some of it.
China is greedy. On the periphery of CITES, it is necessary to remember that in summer 2008 the Chinese company Shandong Longsheng Import and Export Corp bought the European leader of plywood, Plysorol, of which the main factory is in Lisieux, Normandy. For lack of its primary material, okume wood of Gabon, the Lisieux factory has been totally inactive for a year. At the same time as the purchase of the site in Calvados, the Chinese company bought the rights to exploit 400,000 hectares of virgin forest where there exists exceptional plant and animal biodiversity. Okume leaves directly for China from the timber port of Owendo. The poaching and smuggling of the ivory scales of the pangolin and other animal ornaments is obviously difficult to control.
The scientific authorities of Madagascar request the listing of 12 plant species whose seeds, seedlings and bonsai are sold via the Internet around the world as ornamental pieces. These are slow growing species. Their ranges are very fragmented and reduced. They are also marketed for medical purposes and their ecosystem is subjected to accumulating pressures from human activity. Madagascar is at once stricken by natural disasters, corruption and political conflicts. The European Union believes that the scientific documentation and information on the international commerce of the reported species are insufficient and inconsistent. Despite the urgency, and while certain species are at this point so decimated that they merit entering directly into Appendix 1, it is not certain that the proposals of Madagascar will be passed. After a first examination yesterday by the party states, a working group was established to amend these proposals and present them during the session. All the while, the commerce of these plants rages on the internet, and it is therefore asked of all enthusiasts to turn away from those of Madagascan origin, and in particular the following species, identified by their Latin names: Operculicarya decaryi, Operculicarya hyphaenoides, Operculicarya pachypus, Zygosicyos pubescens, Zygosicyos tripartitus, Senna meridionalis, Adenia firingalavensis, Adenia olaboensis, Adenia subsessifolia, Cyphostemma elephantopus, Cyphostemma laza, Cyphostemma montagnacii.
It was also agreed upon to avoid the palms Beccariophoenix madagascariensis and Dypsis decaryri (or Neodypsis decaryri), called triangular palm, which is already listed under Appendix 2. Madagascar asked that their seeds be explicitly included in Appendix 2, because at the moment their international trade was free of all constraints. These proposals for amendments were accepted yesterday.
Bolivia proposes that dynastes satanas be protected by Appendix 2. This rhinoceros scarab, hidden in the tropical forests around La Paz and Cochabamba, is the object of significant demand among collectors. At the head of the sales of scarabs on the Internet, an 85 mm long specimen sells for 200 Euros on nature-et-passion.com and other sites in China, Germany, Japan and Russia. Its collection could bring it to extinction.
The spiny tailed lizard (Uromastyx ornata) is in itself a diplomatic issue. Its habitat is the Sinai desert, divided between Israel, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Egypt (cf press release no 2). Israel calls for its listing in Appendix 1; it is already in Appendix 2. The sub populations are becoming more and more fragmented and isolated, and at the same time are being harmed by excessive dryness attributed to climate change. Egypt is in agreement with Israel. Saudi Arabia said that there is not international trade and that Appendix 1 is pointless. This assessment is debatable with regard to numerous offers such as on repticlic.com or Kijiji, a free advertisement website in Montreal. More than 500 specimens are captured every year to fuel the market for new pets. For lack of sufficient support, Israel has withdrawn its proposal. The lizard is a victim of politics.
Kaiser’s spotted newt (Neurergus kaiseri) is also a victim of the globalization and diversification of pets. A protected species in Iran, the only range state, it is sold on the website “la ferme tropicale” at the exceptional price of 125 Euros. A bargain. Another factor related to land use harms the species. The reservoir of the Dez dam in the Zagros Mountains permits fish to colonize one of the streams in the range and to feed on the eggs and larvae of the newt. Iran requests the listing of this species under Appendix 1.
Sweden, on behalf of the European Union, and the United States propose the inclusion in Appendix 2 of red and pink coral, represented by 30 species. Harvesting has been practiced for the last 200 years in the Mediterranean. This has led to the local destruction of coral banks or the reduction of reproductive capacity. Certain desirable species for making jewelry or charms must grow old before reaching their maximum yield; golden corals are collected from the age of 7-8 years. Picking by divers or robots is extending deeper and deeper down, degrading fragile, hitherto untouched environments. Corals are creators of habitats. The main operations are in the Northwest Pacific and western Mediterranean. In this sector, 10 years ago the reported production was 20 tons. Today it is 40 tons, thanks to new technologies, which can be used up to a depth of 600 meters. In the application requesting inclusion in Appendix 2, pollution, destruction of banks by fishing gear, and looting in the absence of a management plan appear to be the principal sources of the decline. Recreational divers also play an active role in the devastation. A pound of coral sells for between 180 and 700 US dollars. The principle harvesting now comes from immature colonies without treelike morphology. Japan is hostile to the proposal.