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CITES Secretary-General Testifies on Wildlife Trade Before US Senate Committee

CITES24 May 2012: In testimony delivered before the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate, John Scanlon, Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), highlighted that illegal trade in wildlife is happening at a scale that poses an immediate risk to both wildlife and people.

At the hearing, titled "Ivory and Insecurity: The Global Implications of Poaching in Africa," Scanlon called for: more coordinated enforcement responses at global, regional, sub-regional and national levels; making better use of modern enforcement techniques and technologies; attracting additional financial and human resources at national and international levels; and suppressing more effectively the demand for illegal trade. He noted the increasing involvement of organized crime syndicates in wildlife crime, particularly in illegal trade in African elephants and rhinos. Scanlon pointed to data submitted by CITES Parties to the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS), which indicates that large-scale ivory seizures are at an all time high. He underlines that the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (COP 16) will be an opportunity for Parties to send a strong political message on combating the illegal trade in wildlife.

Finally, in discussing the financial implications of tackling illegal trade, Scanlon explained that the Global Environment Facility (GEF) does not serve as a financial mechanism for CITES, making it extremely difficult to secure GEF funding in support of CITES, and enforcement actions in particular.

Testimonies also were heard from Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Founder of Save the Elephants, and Tom Cardamone, Managing Director of Global Financial Integrity. [CITES Press Release]